November 7, 10:50
The Lincoln Line
Happy Birthday Ian and Terrell.
Headed back to St. Louis, albeit reluctantly. Between the fire in my lower back and the overwhelming need to stay home (where I am truly comfortable), it was all I could do to drag myself to Union Station.
How unenthused was I? I make it a habit to get to the station at least an hour before boarding. Today I strolled into the station as we were boarding. Yeah, yeah … I’ll be there when I get there.
But I have things to do and there’s no sense I’m putting them off any longer.
The election is over. We near the end of the worst reality show in American history. That’s all I have to say about that.
It’s remarkable how quickly Chicago has become home for me. I can’t help but notice how much better I’ve been sleeping, how I’ve approached each day with a sense of optimism (admittedly, retirement might play into that as well), and how any blues I might feel can be cured by looking out the window. I don’t know how long this life chapter will last, but I plan to make the most of it.
Time to read.
Just left Alton, THE last stop before St. Louis. We’re making good time. And now, we’re not. A freight train blocks out path. And naturally, it’s just sitting there. It’s moments like this that make me wish I’d flown.
Oh, well. What can you do?
Slowly but surely, I’ll start talking about music again. As I write, Rob Fetters is in the midst of one of his home concerts. It’s his second “season,” and he’s quite good at this.
On a personal level, I’ve come to realize that some music is no longer reaching me. Among the first casualty is progressive rock from modern bands that sounds rooted in 1969, full of flutes and what-not. You know … music for Renaissance fairs. Erik calls it “Carney prog,” which is as perfect as anything I can come up with. It just sounds OLD.
Post-metal, on the other hand, is going directly to my heartstrings. Damned if I know why. It just does. Playing This Will Destroy You at home produced such depth. I’m sure the sound system helped. But I can hear that kind of sound like nobody’s business right now. Which is ironic, given my much improved disposition.
I’m also eager to dive much deeper into classical music. It’s proving to be the perfect accompaniment for the daily reading. I can see myself hunting down affordable box sets featuring Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and the like. Plus a few operas. I do love tenors. Sopranos are growing on me.
Wonderful thing about music: there’s always somewhere else to go.
We’re moving again.
November 8, 16:02
I’m 54 now.
I’m in my mid-fifties. Middle-aged. And AARP member. And AAA. I’m actually retired from something. This should be my parents, not me.
But here I am.
The good news is the adventure has only begun, as far as I’m concerned. There’s still plenty to see and do. I love being at home, but I also love the idea of getting out now and then.
Still … 54. It doesn’t seem like something I should be.
Might as well get used to it.
I thought my car repair was completed. And technically, it was. The original problem has been fixed. But now there’s a NEW problem.
I hadn’t driven two blocks (literally) from my former garage when my “check engine” light came on. What the hell …? Got a diagnostic check at a local auto parts store. The computer informed me that I had a fuel pump problem. Seriously?!?
So I’ll call my mechanic in the morning. Chances are, I’m flying home tomorrow And returning again next week.
This is Greek tragedy, automotive style.
If I’m gonna be in town, I might as well go by Planet Score, which I did last night after a pleasant Birthday Eve dinner with Brad and his wife.
It’s always nice when people are genuinely happy to see you, as Joe and Tim were. It’s always nice to see them. Tim said the funniest thing: “I was just thinking, one of these days I’m gonna look up and Cedric is just gonna walk through the door.” Which is pretty much exactly what happened! The Force is strong with my friend.
Vinyl was the order of the day, even if I already have all but a couple of the records. Led Zeppelin and The National are very analog bands for me. So adding these to the collection just made sense.
The flight has been booked. With luck, I won’t have to take it. But my luck with cars had never been that great.
November 9, 14:46
My car problem wasn’t as bad as I feared. My mechanic had it taken care of in half an hour at no charge. So it looks like I’m driving home after all.
A pleasant lunch with my pal Kim, who initially volunteered to drive me to the airport. But since that was no longer necessary, we enjoyed good chat over a slow-paced meal.
Now it’s time to load up the suitcase and start the drive. Here’s hoping the traffic is minimal. But I’m not counting on it.
November 11, 10:28
The Captain’s Chair
The sun is out, but it’s pretty chilly. Or so I’m told. I haven’t gone outside yet. I will soon.
Yesterday I watched my first serious Chicago thunderstorm. Interesting seeing such a thing from 11 floors up. I was reasonably certain we would lose power at some point. But we didn’t, because I made a conscious effort to get my flashlight. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.
The drive home was pretty easy. From my sister’s door to my building in four-and-a-half hours. Equally surprising was how easy it was to get to my place off the highway. Three turns. That’s it.
Almost immediately, I put my guitars in place. That made the entire trip worthwhile.
There is still a little work to be done in that corner, but it’s pretty much there. And it makes me happy.
Even I was a bit surprised by how eager I was to return home. Maybe it was the car, but I’m sure my stress level was higher in St. Louis. I got home, and it all melted away. And there’s still crap I have to deal with here vis a vis said vehicle. But I’m taking it more in stride. Go figure.
Starting to re-bury myself in Bernie work. Not a bad place to be.
The Sonic Sanctuary
I hope they open the Walgreens immediately north of me again soon. The one I’m going to now is just too damned busy. It’s a First World problem, I admit. Still, I spent nearly an hour taking care of something that should have taken no more than ten minutes.
Apparently my building won’t reserve me a parking spot until my car is registered to my current address. I understand their rationale, but given the state of the world right now, it’s just … inconvenient. Parking in Chicago is spectator sport, I like to say. I wound up parking almost three blocks from home when I got back the other night. Today, I was able to reduce it to about a block and a half.
A few people have wished me a Happy Veterans Day or thanked me for my military service. I have never been completely comfortable with that.
Yes, I served. Four-plus years with the Army Reserve, then four-plus years active duty in the Air Force. I went through the training. I wore the uniforms. I was subject to all the same craziness as anyone else. But when I think of a veteran, I don’t think of myself.
I have no problem accepting thanks for my career in law enforcement. I suppose because that’s because I actually got into stuff as a cop. I had to fight. I had chase. I had to endure man at his lowest point, day in and day out. And a couple of times, I very nearly had to shoot someone. I did stuff.
In the Air Force, I had an office job. I wore my dress uniform almost every day. I wrote newspaper articles. I gave tours. I escorted media members. Don’t get me wrong … we worked hard and put in some long hours on occasion. But that last thing I was worried about was getting shot at. Even in a forward area (as could have happened during Desert Shield/Storm), I may have been close enough to hear things. But I also would have been far enough away to believe my life wasn’t exactly in imminent danger. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.
Had 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan never happened, I could probably accept people’s thanks with no problem. But those things did happen. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines dealt with those things. They lost their limbs. They lost their peace of mind. They lost their lives. THOSE men and women are veterans to me. THOSE are the people we should be thanking today. At least that’s the way MY mind sees it.
But support roles are important, too. Everyone in today’s military is a volunteer. And every one of them should be recognized and thanked. I get that. So when thanks and well wishes come my way, I accept them despite my discomfort. I’ll get past it.
And I’m taking the USAA discounts. I’m not an idiot.
November 12, 21:03
It’s a good thing I love my new place. I’ll be spending a lot of time here in the coming months.
COVID is out of control. City and state government are asking people to voluntarily stay home. I’m for doing whatever it takes to get this bug under control and wait for the vaccine. I wish I could be believe I’m not in the minority. I’ve ranted about this before. No real need to do it again.
I’m coming up on a month in Chicago. I went back to St. Louis last weekend, and was homesick from the moment I got on the train. Once I got there, my stress level rose instantly. All I could think of was getting back here. I’m being told it’s a form of PTSD directly connected to my career. It makes perfect sense. And it’s incredibly sad.
Meanwhile, settling in deeper here makes me more enthusiastic about work musical. The albums are getting easier to hear, and the words are becoming easier to write. This is a good sign, and also makes perfect sense.
I haven’t touched my guitars since hanging them. I’m ok with that. It’s not time yet. But it’s close. I may formally set up my rig tomorrow, if only to work on tucking the cords away.
What really excites me is the Lakefront Trail. I’ve been staring at it time and time again on bus rides along Lakeshore Drive. I have found an entrance point just north of me. I want to take a ride before the temperature gets out of hand. That could happen as soon as tomorrow, provided I can get myself out of bed. If I can get up and do that first thing in the morning, it sets the tone for a productive routine. And that’s exactly what I need.
So now I’ll try to sleep, hoping to make that happen.
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
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