A Few Days in the Life (July 28, 2020)

July 28, 21:55

The Reverberation Station

Took Bane for a 5-mile ride this morning, even though I didn’t feel like it. That’s a good sign. It was my first ride since coming back. I’ll try to stretch it out a bit more tomorrow.

My baby sister turned 50 today. It seems implausible. In my head, this is still our parent’s ages. But while I want to believe I’m still in my late 30’s, my body (through no one’s fault but my own) tells me otherwise. There are days when I can feel every one of these 53 years. Here’s hoping the bike walks at least a little of that back.

A retired man shouldn’t complain about not having enough hours in the day. But that’s how it feels once again. Structure is the key, and I’m still working on building it. I was reminded today that for the past 25 years, I’ve lived a life that revolved around my profession. Filling that hole efficiently takes practice. I’ll get there sooner or later.

Currently checking out the latest effort from drummer Terri Lynne Carringron.

It’s funny how the mind works. I wasn’t the least bit interested in this album when I tried to play it on the train last week. Today, I can hear it just fine. And it’s marvelous.

Arriving in my doorstep late this afternoon was the deluxe edition of Porcupine Tree’s In Absentia. Should make for some interesting listening.

To be certain, the work is piling up. I’ll need to dig in like nobody’s business.

Backtracking:

My turntable arrived yesterday. Assembly was required, which called for more than a little patience. But it came together.

I’m still stunned by how heavy this beast is. Probably around 25 pounds. It’s a tank! It’s also completely manual, which I am definitely not used to. Well … manually starting the records is nothing new. But actually having to lift the needle myself at side’s end, that’s new. It’s a DJ’s turntable, I see. That’s fine. But there will be no scratching.

I’m reasonably sure my CD player will be in tomorrow. It will be nice to hear both units through the new amplifier (I need to stop calling it a receiver) when it arrives.

The only thing not changing will be my speakers. I still love them. I’ve looked at those modern tower speakers. They are gorgeous. They’re also insanely expensive! I’m already doing quite the outlay as is. I may find something affordable enough to make me change my mind. But not right away.

At times, I feel a little guilty about making these kinds of purchases in the current economy. But these are not frivolous, impulsive moves. These have been planned for months on end. Plus, I’m doing my bit to support small businesses.

More listening. And perhaps a little reading.

23:02

The Great Download Debacle of 2006 claimed many brilliant musical victims. One of them was this gem, which had made its way back to my collection.

Buckethead is something special. I’m hoping to talk to him soon for Bernie’s book.

August 2, 22:12

The Reverberation Station

My legs are on fire.

I invited one of my former protégés — who used to race bikes professionally — to teach me how to ride Bane more efficiently. I figured we’d go across the street and go over a few things. No big deal. Jon had other plans.

He suggested going to a nearby trail, and I agreed. I just followed him as he rode, with varying degrees of success. Despite my multiple needs for breaks, he wound up taking me on an 18-mile journey!

To put that in perspective, this was only my sixth ride on Bane. I’ve never gone more than five miles since about 1993. “The Wall” of exhaustion is real, and I found it! Dear God! At least Jon had fun.

Once I got back home, and was reasonably convinced I wasn’t going to die, I realized that I wanted to go out again sooner rather than later. I had trouble with some of the hills, and I’m eager to redeem myself. Perhaps the marathon ride on Sundays will become a thing. During the week, I may aim for 6-10 miles per ride.

I’m getting hooked. But someone needs to come put out the fire in my legs.

Backtracking:

My CD player arrived a couple of days ago. It is marvelous. I suppose I’m happy to hear this and my turntable through my old receiver/amp, so I can do a direct contrast when the new one arrives. I’m more than a little excited.

I have a friend trying to talk me into Tetra speakers. On spec, they seem marvelous. The price, on the other hand, sent me into a bit of sticker shock. Still, an overhauled system will only sound as good as its speakers. So I’ll stew on it for a bit.

I went to Guitar Center to pick up a cable extension for my headphones. My quest was successful. In fact, I got the very last cable they had. Good for me!

Quite unexpectedly, I found myself wandering past the guitar pedals. My compressor is going out, so I thought about replacing it. The store didn’t have any compressors, but they did have this:

I’d seen it advertised more than once. It looked like something I would enjoy playing with, whenever I had the time. Well, it would seem I can make the time these days, so it came home with me.

I put it at the end of the signal chain before reading the directions. Turns out it’s better at the beginning of the chain. So I moved it. I wound up taking the compressor out of the chain, to minimal effect.

With the pedal in the first setting, I randomly strummed the opening chords from my favorite King Crimson song, “Dinosaur.” And damned it the sound didn’t come pretty close to Adrian’s guitar synth effect! Not perfect, but not terrible, either.

August 4, 21:57

The Reverberation Station

No matter how much I do in a day, I can’t help but feel like I should’ve done more. This is retirement after a life of grueling watches, constant problem solving, and mountains of paperwork. It’s incredibly unhealthy. And you get used to it.

As I told my sister, you don’t realize how deep 25 years of policing goes until it’s no longer a part of your life. That structure — exhausting and unhealthy though it may be — becomes your world. When it’s gone, you’re adrift.

There’s no roll call to make. No prosecutor to consult. No decision as to whether or not to turn an eight-hour shift into 12, 14, or a full double to make some overtime. No radio to tell you where to go, why you’re going, and how quickly you should get there. It’s all gone. And it’s very, very odd.

That’s where Bane comes in.

Bane’s job is to ensure I start my day the same way at least four days a week. This morning, we took a quick five-mike ride, designed more to knock the acid out of my quads from Sunday. I’ll never set any speed records on a fat bike, but I’m sure my legs will get stronger.

That, and he offers structure. Start the day with a bike ride, tone up with the bands, shower, dress, and go to work. At least that’s how I’m envisioning Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Jon has even approved my idea to ride for 5, 7, 9, and 12 miles, respective to those days. Some days will be tougher than others. But this is how structure is built.

Tuesday and Thursday? Golf.

I’m LONG overdue for get back out there. Perhaps the driver due tomorrow will help. A couple of weeks of chipping, putting, short game, and range work will be a nice way to get me outside, and maybe even social. So Bane will help pay yet another dividend. I’ll be able to get my lower body strength back.

Meanwhile, today’s listening consisted of a couple of newer records and a couple of classics. The new records will become Eighth Notes soon enough. Queen, Prince, and Vernon Reid’s Freeform Funky Freqs carry the rest of the day.

August 6, 2020

The Reverberation Station

The 80’s King Crimson (my favorite) keeps me company while I get deeper into Neil Peart’s book. I have one last errand to run before a 3:30 appointment, then we’ll see where the rest of the day takes me. I keep telling myself I’ll be working on reviews, but I can’t make any promises.

A close former workmate is dealing with COVID-19. He tells me a couple of other former co-workers have it as well. I simply do not understand how anyone with half a brain can continuously and and consistently play down this virus. Another friend once suggested letting Darwin do whatever he’s gonna do to these people. It’s hard to disagree sometimes.

I haven’t felt much like writing of late. Honestly, I think it’s COVID-related. I don’t have the bug, but there can be no doubting the sense of mental doom the disease carries. I do what I can to cope, and things could be one helluva lot worse. Still …

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I get how unbelievably fortunate I have been where the pandemic is concerned. I was actually in a position where I could “opt out” of work, hang up my uniforms, and stay at home. And the job still had to pay me my regular wage. That’s incredibly lucky and I’m grateful.

That being said, the transition into retired life was much more forced than it should’ve been. Gatherings, handshakes, hugs, a chance to sit and talk to a few people before walking out for good … I was denied these things. As such, it felt more like I was taking an extended vacation or I was recovering from an injury rather than believing I had actually retired.

Even with the appropriate badge, the end didn’t seem real until this past Monday, when I got my first pension check. I was asked a couple of times how it felt, and I couldn’t come up with the right word. I think I can now. The word is final.

The ties are truly severed. I’m thrilled. I’m saddened. It was almost too severe.

It doesn’t help that I can’t hang out with a few of those old friends to help with the goodbye. We can’t go to a ball game. We can’t go to a gig. It’s ill-advised to go to a bar (not that I would anyway). I got to go from surrounded by work family to isolated and on my own in the blink of an eye.

It tugs at the spirit.

There was no real transition time. I didn’t feel it. One day I woke up and said, “I’m a cop.” The next day I said, “I’m a writer.” There are worse problems in life, but that one tends to fester a bit.

The reviews are piling up. The book needs fleshing out. I have to dig in. I’d just like to do it with a little less on my … being.

August 7, 17:54

The Reverberation Station

Drained.

I slept relatively well, but still had little to no enthusiasm for the coming day. I have nothing to offer this day was the prevailing thought. Nothing bad has happened. I’m just … flat.

A trip to Planet Score helped things. Maybe I just needed a quick in-person conversation. Those are always nice. And now that I’ve said whatever it was I had to say, I don’t feel the need to speak anymore.

And of course, a few records followed me home. Gotta make use of that new turntable.

I went to the grocery store with pizza on my mind. I’ve actually found a frozen pizza I enjoy. It’s in the freezer. Now I’m thinking I could make do with a tuna sandwich on toast. Save the pizza for another day. My brain … sheesh.

The PGA Championship is on. Tiger Woods is playing. I’m barely watching. And the weekend series between the Cardinals and the Cubs has been postponed, due to another positive COVID test from my Birds. Dammit … will we EVER get to see baseball?

Guess I’ll focus on reading instead.

August 12, 10:11

The (New, Improved) Reverberation Station

The overhaul is essentially complete.

The Rogue Sphinx amplifier arrived yesterday essentially unannounced, but to great joy all the same. I’m just glad I was looking outside when UPS just happened to pull up.

Like a kid at Christmas, I watched intently, hoping the delivery man was grabbing a medium-sized box that appeared to have some weight. When he did, I hoped he’d bring it to my building. When he did, I raced to the door with anticipation. I took a quick glance at the box and saw “Rogue” written on the side. Yay!!! It was here at last!!!

I took my time and carefully placed my new amp in the proper rack space, then hooked everything up. The setup is as aesthetically pleasing as any I could have hoped for.

Now to hear what all the fuss was about.

Kind of Blue and Dark Side of the Moon were my first soundcheck choices. I was told the experience would be quite different from what I’m used to. I can’t overstate how true that is.

The bass rumble I knew was gone. The midrange and high end we’re crisp and tight. But the bottom end seemed a little … light. I could feel panic setting in. But when I went back and read the manual, it told me the tubes could take several hours to fully integrate.

My Facebook friends told me the same thing. Be patient. The payoff is coming. Internet forums, reviews … everyone was saying something similar. One review mentioned the payoff coming nearly a week later. I’ve been plugged in for about 20 hours now. There’s definitely a better sound now than there was yesterday. Prince and Porcupine Tree have been the test cases so far. The sound is rich, to be certain. And it’s filling out. I’ll be interested to see where we are tomorrow and the day after. I’m thinking I’ll be pretty happy.

I wanted to take Bane for a spin, but something told me to hold off for a bit. That’s when I noticed how dark is was outside. And sure enough, the skies have opened up.

Guess I’ll wait for awhile. Plenty of other things to do in the interim.

#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.

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