A Few Days in the Life (October 20, 2020)

October 20, 10:21

The (New) Sonic Sanctuary

My new office has a view. I am a lucky man.

Outside, there are clouds today. Rain is forecast. No matter. I’m in a relatively sunny place, mentally.

I took the train to Chicago a week ago. It didn’t take long to feel comfortable. There’s something to be said for feeling like you belong. Of course, I am only in the initial stages of becoming a resident. My learning curve has only just begun its ascent. Still, I harbor no regrets about my decision to relocate. My new home is slowly shaping up into exactly what I want it to be.

There is still much unpacking to be done, to say nothing of trash removal. My entry foyer is a disaster area. But for the moment, I eagerly await my first ever grocery delivery. Eating out in Chicago is an expensive proposition, so the sooner I cut that particular cord, the better. This can be seen as a double-edged sword, given the massive amount of good food to be found in this city. Well, I’ll just have to find it in me to explore each place slowly. There’s no real rush. I live here now.

In addition to unpacking, I am trying to establish a new, workable daily routine. This will take several months, no doubt. But the foundation is being put down. Naturally, music is the dominant element. And it’s just a little ironic that I bought a new television with the express goal of avoiding it during the first part of the day.

I bought a big, comfortable chair with the goal of starting and ending my day sitting in it, reading. The first read is for music news and headlines. The final read is for a good book. In addition to what I’m already reading, I have a marvelous selection of classics on my shelves. They’ve been there for years, and are long overdue for a read from me. So, I have another retirement goal.

But for now, music work. And waiting for food.

13:12

The Blue Line

The first food delivery was a success. Of course, now all I can see is everything I forgot to order. So a second delivery had been ordered. It will arrive tomorrow.

For now, I await the train while listen to a subway guitarist attempt his best Stevie Ray Vaughan. He’s not terrible, even if I’m pretty sure he’s using his guitar’s bridge pickup. He should be using the neck for a beefier sound. Oh, well.

It’s also fascinating just how many people are willing to make us part of their very loud, very animated cell phone discussions. Maybe they should let the rest of us know whom they’re talking to and the context of the conversation. That way we can all chip in.

October 26, 12:02

The Sonic Sanctuary

An actual work day. The office is not yet complete, but there more than enough in place for me to get a few things done. 

The morning read. A cup of coffee. Classical music. A great way to start the day. And now I listen to tunes being sent to me by outside agencies to determine my level of interest. 

Outside, it’s cold and a few snow flurries have fallen. Welcome to Chicago. But the weather system seems to have passed as quickly as it arrived. Time will tell. There’s nothing I can do about it anyway. So why fret over it?

I suppose you could say I have begun to settle into Chicago life. It’s nice to wake up here, see the city, and not worry about what time I need to check out or when I need to get to the train station. 

Now that the big boards are back up (and more importantly, actually on the wall), I can start looking into slowly catching up on the reviews and other topics I hope to address in the near future. Alas, I’ll have to do these things without a shirt and tie, because said shirts are in my car. We most likely won’t be reunited until next week. 

And so the “discovery” of new music begins anew. Later today, Bernie Worrell work begins once again. The path to the “new normal” has taken its earliest steps.

15:10

People never cease to amaze me. That’s not necessarily a good thing. 

COVID-19 continues to surge. Numbers continue to rise. Yet I always find myself arguing with someone who doesn’t see fit to wear a mask because, “Nobody is gonna tell me what to do.” Or, “I’m tired of wearing this mask! I’ve been doing it for months!” Or they don’t want to appear weak. Or they try to make the entire virus and its precautions political. 

Really, people? Really?

Those are the stupidest things I have ever heard. 

You don’t like being told what to do? Well, God forbid you ever join the military. Or go to prison. Or work pretty much anywhere under direct supervision. Your tired of wearing the mask? Well, so am I. But here’s the thing: THE VIRUS DOESN’T GIVE A SHIT! NOR DOES IT GIVE A SHIT WHAT POLITCAL PARTY YOU BELONG TO, OR WHO YOU VOTE FOR! It’s a VIRUS! NONE of your arguments are relevant! 

Why don’t people want to wear a mask? There is exactly ONE reason to not wear a mask, and ONE reason only: selfishness. Plain and simple. “To hell with everyone else. I’m gonna do what I want to do!”

Unbelievable. 

People piss and moan about wanting things to return to “normal.” Yet they refuse to do the ONE thing that would make that possible sooner rather than later! Meanwhile, more and more of the music industry finds itself in extreme danger because people refuse to do the right thing. 

It’s ridiculous. It’s also moot, where this page is concerned. And so, I move on. I’ll keep doing my part. I can only hope the dim bulbs eventually catch up. 

The day’s biggest musical finds come courtesy of a composer and cellist named Jo Quail, whose music is positively haunting. And ever so beautiful. 

I’m also quite taken with Artemis, a remarkable collection of female jazz musicians. I shouldn’t have to say they’re all female, but that’s still where we are, where the music industry in general — and jazz in particular — are still concerned. Their eponymous debut is quite remarkable. I’ll be expounding on that later. 

In five minutes, Steven Wilson will be interviewed, discussing his new album The Future Bites. Given the proggers disdain for what they’ve heard so far, this should be an interesting chat. I nearly forgot about it, but just happened to return to my desk at the perfect time. Let’s see how this goes …

20:54

The Captain’s Chair

Evening reading, with Brahms as accompaniment.

My attempt at a (mostly) well-rounded day was, for the most part, successful. My day ends where it started. In my chair, reading.

The Steven Wilson chat was pretty much what I thought it would be. His explanation for the new album’s musical direction was not without merit. The man is chasing his Muse (my words, not his). And I respect anyone willing to do such a thing, even if it flies in the face of his own popularity.

Took a walk to get dinner, as I was craving fish. That’s my “meal out” for the week. Or at least until Saturday. A self-imposed rule, but a useful one. There’s plenty to eat in the house.

Things around here are starting to feel normal. I can’t ask for much more than that.

An old friend of mine lost his father this morning. Truly a sad time. It occurred to me that three days ago marked the 12th anniversary of my dad’s passing. For the first time in quite awhile, I didn’t dwell on it. In fact, it pretty much got past me. And while I do feel a little shame about missing it, there’s also a small sense of relief. I’ve moved on. I feel I honor his passing more by trying to accomplish what I want to do in life — making him proud — than I do by wallowing in a sad day. It’s also been a week since the seventh anniversary of my mom’s death. A similar feeling exists there, as well.

I will honor my parent’s memory by continuing to be the best son I can. I don’t know what more I can do.

Off to bed.

October 27, 19:21

The Captain’s Chair

Rare is the day I will allow my laptop into my living room. That’s why I have an office. But the World Series is on, and I can make an exception in this case.

The day got off to a late start, pushing the morning read to closer to noon. No matter. It was done, and things were learned.

Finally got around to assembling the drawers for the last IKEA “Malm.” Now that box, along with two others, were removed from my bedroom. ALL visible boxes have been disposed of. Those in the closets will be handled as the situation warrants. There’s no rush.

Looking out my window today, I came to a rather surprising realization. Lord knows it’s been with me for a long time. I guess I just chose to ignore it. But the truth is the truth, and it always has its day. And that truth is this:

I am a city dweller.

For years, I have called myself a suburbanite (because that’s where I was raised) forced to live in the City due to job requirement. But the truth is, I’ve lived in the city five or so years longer than I lived in the suburbs. It’s what I know. I’m used to it.

I’ve had ample opportunities to move back to the suburbs, even toward the tail end of my career. I came up with various reasons not to do it, legitimate or otherwise. Even when I retired, I wasn’t in a big hurry to move, had I decided to stay in St. Louis.

When I decided to move to Chicago, I barely looked at homes in the suburbs. I absolutely adore Oak Park, and would have no problem laying my head there. Still, I knew the music scene (whenever it returns) and most of the record stores would have me on the L and headed into the city. So why not just take that little trek out of the equation?

Many people leave my line of work and do all they can to move to isolated areas in the country. The farther they are away from people, the better. Even I have griped about my disdain for both crowds and cold weather. And here I am, at the Midwest epicenter for both. The irony is not lost on me.

I’ve been asked if the sounds of my new surroundings bother me. Truth be told, I hadn’t really given them a lot of thought. I’m 11 floors up, so what am I hearing? Horns honking, buses stopping and departing, the occasional siren wailing, and trains that pass by All. The. Time. And none of it is a big deal. Because I live in the CITY, and that’s what cities do. Plus, my many years of training make it possible for me to ignore those sounds. I just tune them right out. I know when it’s time to pay attention.

So I guess I’m not much of a suburbanite any more. I appreciate all the nothing I hear when I visit friends and family there. But I’ve come to find something quite comforting in the sounds of the city.

Back to work musical.

October 28, 12:56

The Captain’s Chair

The morning read once again moved to early afternoon. This time, at least, I was out getting a couple of things done. Today’s Valuable Lesson: Sometimes, it’s easier to walk than wait for the bus.

I accidentally got a little under two miles in, due to my lack of patience. Why wait 21 minutes to ride the bus for a mile when I can walk it in less than that? My back isn’t completely thrilled with me, but I got through it.

Now to scan the headlines before a pleasant phone call.

November 1, 16:00

Home

The Bears are on television, so I’m in here with them. 

How on God’s green earth is it November already? Given all the time we’ve spent locked down or distanced from what we love to do, the year has still flown by with a quickness. 

I worry about people who seem to believe that 2021 will be some kind of hard reboot, and things will go back to the way they were. I’m hoping they understand that it doesn’t work that way. We’ll still be distancing. In fact, I’m pretty sure we’ll be completely locked down again. Celebrities will continue to pass away, particularly the older ones. I get that it sucks these people we admired in our youth (like Sean Connery, most recently) are passing away. The rate may even seem quite alarming. But when a 90-year-old passes away, is it part of a shitty year or Father Time remaining undefeated?

Many also seem convinced that Election Day will completely change the world, almost immediately. But even with a change of power (which probably won’t be official until a couple of weeks after the election anyway), it will take time for things to manifest themselves. I dunno … maybe I’m just being too cynical. 

 

The morning read continues to morph. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to read three or four books at the same time. But it suits me, because my mood shifts from day to day. I’ve started ordering classic books; the ones featured in just about everyone’s “100 must-reads” lists. How I’ve gotten through life without reading more is anyone’s guess. But I’ve finally arrived at the party. I’ll try to make the most of it. 

Had a wonderful conversation with Rob Fetters, one of my favorite singer/songwriters. I also have the privilege of calling him a friend. And he made me an offer I simply could not refuse. More on that another day. Let’s just say it was the last offer I ever expected to receive.

November 2, 21:54

The Captain’s Chair

Happy Birthday, Beth.

Funny thing about this chair: I seem to be spending most of my living room time here. There’s nothing wrong with my couch. I quite like it. I just like being in the chair a bit more. Go figure.

Speaking of the living room, this was a rather exciting day. The first of my rugs arrived today. I now have one in said living room …

And one in the Sonic Sanctuary …

I’m quite pleased with how they fit in. It’s starting to look like an adult lives here, even if I have kept a couple of toys out here and there. Don’t want to get old too quickly.

The excitement over my cello’s arrival has proven warranted. It sits just perfectly in the spot I had planned.

I’m already hearing from friends online, insisting that I learn to play it. That was never my intention. And I currently have little to no interest. I suppose that could change over time. Just not today. I bought it to be decorative, and that’s the way I’m going with it. For now.

Meanwhile, the reading pile keeps growing …

And if that’s not enough, I’m bringing chess back into play.

I’m terrible, but it will help keep my mind sharp. I hope.

Headed for bed relatively early. I’d like to get a lot done tomorrow as well.

November 3, 16:10

The Sonic Sanctuary

Election Day.

The United States — and no doubt a great deal of the world — wait with baited breath to see just whom the country wants to be its next leader. I’m as concerned as anyone else, but what separates me from so many others I know (particularly on social media) is that I already know we won’t truly get the results today. So there’s no real sense in getting worked up over it.

Either the president will declare victory and the Democrats will demand to wait until the mail-in ballots are counted; or the Democrats will win and the president will call the whole thing a fraud while suddenly declaring he wants to wait for all the mail-in votes to be counted, because clearly they must all be for him!

Either way, it will be awhile before we know anything for sure. And life must go on.

Found myself flooded with orders from Amazon and Bed Bath and Beyond. I came upstairs with an armful, and another load (which I must pick up tomorrow) awaits me. Of particular importance was the arrival of my new bike lock, which I plan to install tonight. Bane and I can get out for a ride tomorrow, assuming the world doesn’t catch fire between now and then.

Shit. I don’t have my helmet. It’s still in St. Louis. Moving sucks sometimes.

Well … I can still install the lock, and ultimately get Bane downstairs and out of my kitchen. It’s a start.

November 4, 16:50

Home

Happy Birthday, Greg!

It’s been a day of adulting, for the most part. While the country works itself into a frenzy over the election results (they kept me from sleeping particularly well last night), I decided to work toward completing the furnishing of my office.

A trip back to the store where I got my couch and bed netted me the futon I like, and it goes perfectly with my office decor. As does the small bookshelf he also had, which will fill the space under the window (and house a few toys) quite nicely. It will be great to see that room bordering on being complete.

November 5, 11:12

Home

A nation holds its collective breath. I grouse about moving boxes.

After all the anticipation of moving Bane downstairs, I finally get the chance to do it. And now I want to bring him back up to me.

I’m not happy with the system my building uses for bicycles. So far, it’s the only thing I’ve been truly unhappy about. Anything else that annoys me can be handled with a couple of minor adjustments. But this is a bit of a Thing.

So now I look to clear out the foyer closet with the hope it will make sufficient space for Bane. The odds may be slightly against me. The only other option then would be trying to hang him on a wall, or putting him behind my couch. Neither of those options appeal to me.

I suppose I’ll figure it out.

The daily read ambitions continue to grow. More books are due later today. You got to love the internet: I post an interesting array of books, and half the comments are about what’s not there. Well, I did open the forum for thoughts, didn’t I?

The car is ready. I go back on Saturday to pick it up. I’ll spend my birthday with my sister, then make my way back. Part of me dreads the trip. I’m comfortable and happy. But I need to make the trip. It’s not just my car coming back with me. It’s my dress shirts and guitars, among other little things. I’m sure I’ll be content once I am completely here.

23:36

The Captain’s Chair

A good day, save for a couple of First World problems.

I thought the sheets I bought were closer to gray. They’re actually closer to tan. This means they clash with the comforter set. Sigh. I’ve re-ordered the correct sheets, and I’ll use these on the futon in the guest room (aka my office) when the need arises. A small thing in the grand scheme, to be certain. But such is the standard in the dream home.

Secondly, I seem to have misplaced a CD, which pretty much never happens. But when I pulled the sleeve for my copy of Triumph & Disaster, it was lacking the disc! How the hell did that happen?

I don’t even know where to begin looking for it. It’ll pop up one day, probably months from now, In the wrong case. The logical move (for me) was to simply buy another CD. Now all I have to do is await its arrival. From Australia.

A little reading, then bedtime.

November 6, 23:45

The Captain’s Chair

A good day, even if it got off to a slow start. Spent most of the morning and early afternoon waiting for my furniture delivery. It finally came, and I’m mostly happy with it.

The bad news is I ran out of space pretty quickly, and one has to do a little “twist” move to get into the office. Had the wall been back about four inches, it would be a perfect fit. Alas, I’ll have to settle for an A-minus.

I actually spent a good chunk of the day in the office, doing mostly adult stuff. Finally got the printer and my computer to speak to one another. One less hassle. Paid some bills, then gathered up some Bernie Worrell notes. Things are coming together.

Spent a pleasant evening hanging with my pal Erik. A little pizza and drinks as part of an early birthday celebration. And of course, we yammered away about all things music.

Erik also solved a mystery, as he found my missing CD. Seems I put the Triumph & Disaster disc in the same sleeve as Departure Songs. I was certain I had looked there! Guess not. I was probably too angry to slow down and pay attention. So now I have another CD coming, and it belongs to Erik.

On the train for St. Louis tomorrow morning. I don’t feel like going, but I have business to finish. No time like the present.

Reading, then off to bed.

#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. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell

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

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