January 16, 21:53
The sun has been trying to shine, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still winter out there.
How did half a month slip past me? I’ve done a poor job with keeping up with this particular feature. Luckily, it’s not because I’ve been under a cloud. Rather, I have been incredibly busy.
Building the brand remains as exciting as it was when it popped into my head. It’s gonna be a LOT of work, but that’s not really surprising. And it’s work worth doing.
Clarity of the future is forcing the further discharge of the past, which is perfectly fine with me. Clarity brings focus. Focus brings determination. Determination brings results. Simple math, really.
Good things are trying to happen on multiple levels. The introduction and first couple of chapters of the book were might with great enthusiasm by the party who matters most. Moments like that definitely increase the drive. Time has been spent on research, trying to learn what I can about recording sessions. Progress.
Reviews are being written, playlists are being assembled, interviews are being conducted. I am gradually but steadily becoming the kind of busy I hoped to be. The trick is keeping things in order, with all energy going to the right place at the right time. It’s not always easy, but it can be done. Earlier to bed would certainly help.
The saga that is my back seems to be taking a positive turn. The last round of injections seems to have taken hold. The nerves have been burned and the pain has been reduced, even if the weakness remains. I still can’t walk heel-toe and my balance is still a little off, particularly when I get out of bed.
Still, the disc problem remains. I feel like a child trying to cover a broken vase by covering said vase with a towel. Nobody can see it, but it’s still there. From where I sit, FIXING the problem remains preferable to simply masking the problem. I’ll be talking to a surgeon soon. If that’s where I’m headed, I’d like to get that and rehab done before golf season.
For the first time in quite some time, music has begun to formulate in my head. The themes aren’t clear, but it was enough to get me to remove a guitar from the wall and start learning how my delay pedal works. What fun to see a setting that allows me to create backwards riffs! Of course, those riffs remain but a dream until I practice enough for my guitar to feel like a guitar, as opposed to a plank of wood with wires on it.
I saw a YouTube video of a man extolling the virtues of a cheap Yamaha keyboard that made interesting sounds. I was intrigued. Seventy or so dollars later, it sits in my living room.
It’s already paying dividends. After encouraging a friend to design a label for CirdecSongs, I thought it would be nice to have a 10-12 second intro theme for future videos. Well, Anthony planted the idea in my head anyway. Regardless, I knew where I wanted the theme to go before picking up the keyboard. Fifteen minutes later, I had it. A good sign.
An eight-track recorder also found its way into the house. More than enough to record any ideas that my crop up with room for future augmentation.
I’ll treat it as a little reward for a decent day’s work for now. But first, I have to learn how to use it.
January 17, 16:48
Outside, a gray day. Inside, getting a schedule together while watching the Bulls. I think I’m having a better day than they are.
Managed to get a couple of interviews scheduled with thoughts of a new YouTube channel in mind. I haven’t been to the office yet, but I will shortly. Much to learn about video editing and web page design. I truly have entered a brand new world.
Here’s something I haven’t said in quite some time: my back feels fine. There’s a little discomfort as we go down, but walking is possible and relatively comfortable. Progress.
I get tired of swallowing a small pharmacy every day. But the pills seem to be working, so I guess I’ll keep on this path.
January 24, 14:06
The Reverberation Station
Absorbing new music from Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, and Gizmodrome for enjoyment and review purposes. Lots of quality notes to be found.
Winter finally decided to make its presence known. It’s cold, and it will only get colder. Welcome to Chicago.
Woke up to this over the weekend.
But where once was annoyance, there is now merely indifference. That’s the way it goes. I guess I’ve adapted. Too many other things to concern myself with.
I had to take a couple of steps back from brand-building to restore order to the ambitious chaos in my head. Where once I worried that there was no blood going to my efforts, I now must deal with the opposite problem. Blood is going everywhere, often all at once.
What am I trying to do here? How do all the parts fit together? Once assembled, where do those parts belong? It can be a lot. Initial thoughts of a gentle semi-retired life of casual six-hour workdays are going right out the window. The next several months are going to be quite labor intensive. But I remind myself of that great nugget of wisdom: “The man who loves what he does never works a day in his life.” There is truth to be found there.
Still, it’s funny — and frightening — to think that about 90 percent of the skills I learned over the course of my former career are now all but useless. And therein may lie part of the problem. Where to begin? Wisdom says, at the beginning. So, off I go.
January 27, 23:15
I swore I was done with the statues and toys. But Darth Vader was too cool to pass up. And now he sits on my desk, reminding me of the importance of getting things done.
It was a gray day turned black by frustration, but the clouds lifted with a little help. Learning a new skill set is challenging enough. Trying to learn with a 55-year-old brain doesn’t make it any easier. There’s nothing worse than putting forth an effort and getting nowhere. Mercifully, a friend helped me get out of the tall grass. Progress was made.
Good news from the Back Chronicles: no surgery is in my future. My orthopedist, his resident, and I talked for several minutes after I got a fresh set of x-rays. The weight loss and injections have me headed in the right direction. I’ve been cleared to go back to the gym. Now it’s a question of getting my back and core stronger. It will be a process.
December 5, 15:23
The Sonic Sanctuary
Outside, gray. Inside, slightly brighter.
I’ve been starting and stopping this diary for months, much like all the other activities I had planned for the year. In the end, it comes down to my state of mind. And that is connected to the poor state of my back. Among other things. But let’s stay with the back for now.
When last I journaled, I was heading off to get an injection for my ailing low back, riddled with bulging discs and spinal stenosis. But the shot didn’t happen because other aspects of my health were terribly out of whack. Since then, those issues have been brought back under control, I’m 40 pounds lighter (and counting, I hope), and my physical outlook is on the mend.
Except for my back.
I finally did get the injection. I felt relief for three days. Since then, things have gone back downhill in a hurry. The stenosis is pinching off nerves to my right hip and my feet, to say nothing of my backside. The conservative approaches haven’t worked. I can’t help but feel that surgery is inevitable. Frankly, I welcome it.
But first, I must get the two medical networks handling my back and the rest of my health talking to one another. That’s a completely different saga.
It’s hard to write when most of your mental focus is on trying to stop your back from hurting. Book production ground to a halt. Reviews have been sporadic, at best. And forget about sitting up to do a podcast. But I’m trying to fight through, and I’m making bits of progress.
I’ve conducted some decent interviews for Make Weird Music, which have been or will be posted in the near future. I know my chats with Dennis Chambers and Jessica Kion are up. Tim Motzer isn’t far behind. There are four more in queue, and I’m waiting to start another right now.
Somehow, some way, I’m gonna finish this year productively.
The Sonic Sanctuary
Interview completed. Had a wonderful chat with my friend and highly eclectic musician Tory Z Starbuck. A planned half hour chat went twice as long with no regrets. His is a sound and philosophy more people need to hear. He is a man that definitely marches to the beat of his own (usually electronic) drummer.
Trying to push out as much product (most of which has been sitting in “dry dock’) as quickly as possible. Hoping to clear the board, as it were, before the new year.
There’s more to do. But first, dinner.
I nearly forgot that I was scheduled to talk to Leonardo Pavkovic, head of MoonJune Records. Not an interview, per se. Nust chewing the fat about this and that. But our chats always seem to lead someplace interesting. This was no exception.
I’m calling it a night feeling better mentally than I have in a few days. Here’s hoping it carries over into the new week.
December 6, 17:05
Bad back day. But what else is new?
I had to get to the pharmacy to pick up a few things. My motor control was questionable at best already. I stepped outside into 40-50 mph gusts of wind. I very nearly got toppled over once or twice. Wow. Just … wow.
Lying on the couch, when I’d rather be sitting at my desk. Time with the ice pack is coming. Doctor visit tomorrow. Hoping I’m getting closer to a solution.
December 7, 11:42
The Doctors Office.
Waiting. Another day of complaining about being in agony. Another day of expecting to get nowhere fast (on multiple levels). They say every “no” gets you a step closer to “yes.” Let’s hope a similar approach works here.
More injections await. This time, they might actually answer questions. Assuming, that is, tomorrow’s second opinion goes in the opposite direction.
I’m frequently sent music for review. I don’t get paid for my efforts (yet), so I tend to focus on the positive when it comes to discussing what I hear. Albums I don’t like are simply pushed aside with nothing more said. I just finished playing one such album. Well … I played 60 percent of it, anyway. Rare is the day I hear a record so tough on my ears I can’t even finish it. Today is one of those days. That’s all that needs to be said.
December 13, 23:20
The Sonic Sanctuary
My back has been cranky for the last three or four days. This does little to improve my mood or encourage productivity. Tonight, I’m actually in here for awhile. Emails have been sent, albums have been heard, reviews are being written. Not the most productive day in history, but not too bad.
It’s sad that it comes to this: how I feel after my first dozen or so steps when I get out of bed pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the day. Some days are good, other days not so much. Even today, repeated trips down to the laundry room eventually reduced me to moderate agony. I’m learning to accept small victories. I may not have washed all my laundry, but the essentials are done. That’s a start.
The most important album of the year arrived today. It is the last recorded work of Bernie Worrell, where he played as the co-founder of Khu.eex’, an amazing Indigenous People/R&B band, though that description hardly does it justice. It’s a triple-album set, and not a single note is wasted. More on this later.
December 14, 18:00
Insomnia struck again last night. I might have slept for two hours. A groggy morning and an afternoon nap were inevitable. I know how this movie goes. At least I got my errand run.
The real disappointment was not being able to take advantage of unseasonably warm Chicago weather by taking a bike ride. I could almost hear Bane calling to me. How frustrating. Tomorrow I get an x-ray on my hip. The day after, injections. It’s amazing how much of Chicago I’ve seen while traveling to doctor’s offices.
But for now, I’ll spend a little time in my office.
Trying hard to embrace the philosophy of getting at least a little something done every day, even if my rhythm is off. I’ll see the doc about the insomnia soon enough.
December 15, 09:20
It feels like I slept last night. I’d clock it at right around six hours. It’s short of what doctors like, but it’s a fairly decent accomplishment to me.
There’s much to do today. Best hop (more or less) to it.
Arrived on time to be told they’re half an hour behind. Of course they are. It’s not like I have anything else to do today. Yeesh! And of course I took my book out of my backpack, and forgot to return it. Oh, well. I’ll figure out how to amuse myself.
The nice lady stepped out to tell patients there is a 30-minute delay. I’m at an hour. In nine minutes, I’m out of here. I have things to do.
My declaration worked. Not 30 seconds after I decided when to leave, the office door swung open and my name was called. I should do that more often.
December 16, 11:12
In the car.
Headed home after another injection, this one called a branch block. It seems to have gone well. I was just annoyed about being awakened from a rather pleasant Propofol-fueled nap. I wish I could get that stuff in six-packs.
The belief is I can get some things done today. We shall see. The facility had a very nice lobby. I couldn’t help but enjoy the Christmas tree.
December 18, 21:35
Good news: Some productive writing has been done. The feeling that more awaits exists. There is a sense of anticipation in the air I haven’t felt in quite some time. This is wonderful, albeit surprising. Why? Well …
Bad news: the pain has returned. It’s in the backside. It’s in the hip. Walking is a struggle again. The injections failed. Again. This can’t wait for the follow-up on the 4th. This will be addressed Monday. It’s time to see the surgeon.
From a Facebook post a couple of hours ago:
Now that the Mighty Crim has transitioned into silence, I’m feeling the need to occasionally revisit each “period,” in an attempt to truly appreciate each band incarnation as it was. (Except for the “Islands” era. It just doesn’t resonate with me.)
I initially struggled mightily with the final “King Crimson Chamber Esemble” and what it represented. But I have come to respect them mightily for their abilities, even if I would make little tweaks here and there.
It’s probably down the road just a little, but I have a feeling some kind of box set from this era is inevitable. For now, I’ll go back and absorb what this band started as, and what it ultimately became.
The first major release of this band, Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind, has truly begun to resonate with me this evening. Make no mistake: I’ve always respected this band. But tonight, it clicked. It’s a nice feeling.
The spirit of Robert Fripp has taken serious hold, as it does from time to time. But in this instance, the hold exists on multiple levels. As I sat and picked at my dinner, I listened to this band and how it has redefined itself over the years. Fripp says Crimson is not a band, but rather a way of doing things. Which got me to thinking about what I’m doing and how I’ve chosen to go about it.
There is too much randomness. No doubt this is connected to the fickle nature of my health. But for now, I am seeing clearly. With 2022 at hand and a career in law enforcement truly behind me, I find myself asking a question Re: the next chapter. That question is simple:
What is CirdecSongs?
This is an important question, for it shapes my world for the foreseeable future. It determines just what form of employment I seek and can strain. It is a question that must be deeply, honestly, and completely contemplated. That contemplation begins tonight.
1. What is CirdecSongs at its core?
2. What drives CirdecSongs?
3. What is CirdecSongs’s aim?
4. How will this objective be expressed?
5. Where do these objectives find their place in the world?
When did I turn into a philosopher? Perhaps the moment I realized — regardless of what happens to my back — that I want CirdecSongs to attain the status of brand. It doesn’t have to be huge. It need not be on every tongue far and wide. A small, influential circle will do just fine.
So I’ll think on it.
December 19, 19:34
The sun was out. The football was good. The music was flowing. And the Eagle has landed.
Gotta hand it to the good people at LEGO. They lured me in via my love for NASA, and I can’t free myself from their hold. Or maybe I don’t want to. This is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Keeps me out of trouble.
I’ve already enjoyed building the Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket.
I asked Santa for something special for Christmas. I believe my wish had been granted.
I’ve really been connecting to the music lately. Jazz Sunday was heavy on Billy Cobham.
There are eight albums in this set. I played five of them. Today was the first time I really heard them. And they are incredible! There’s been something about this weekend. Back pain aside, I’ve felt … present. I’m hoping this lasts awhile.
December 22, 23:52
Winter is here, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Yet. And now the days start getting longer again. Sunsets are always nice to see from here. I’d just prefer they come a bit later.
The coming year is taking shape, although I’m tempering the rising ambitions. The real goal should probably be something along the lines of “make COVID work for you.” The primary thought process continues to center around the CirdecSongs moniker and turning it into a brand.
Another pleasant interview took place, thanks to Markus Reuter. I’m really enjoying these interviews. They’re giving me interesting ideas.
December 30, 14:20
Another year nears its end. The Holidays are almost done. Christmas was a bit of a challenge, as I battled a bout of the Booster Blues. I thought I had gotten my shot without incident or worry. About 36 hours later, it all came down like an anvil. For the next three days, I was laid low with coughs, congestion, and body aches. I was certain I had the flu before my sister reminded me of possible booster side-effects. I’m finally feeling human again.
It was a good four days after Christmas before I started playing with my new toys. Well, one of them. The LEGO Discovery build has proven to be a most welcome diversion. The 17 bags of blocks could seem quite intimidating.
The previous builds have made things a lot less worrisome. Even this kit eases you into things by building the Hubble telescope first.
Nine bags in, things are taking shape.
December 31, 19:00
And so, another year is behind us. Sadly, it deeply resembled the year before. But I’m trying to circumvent the doom and gloom. I end my year with a fun accomplishment. Discovery is complete.
It was a fun build. A lovely way to pass the time. Was it the last? I’m not sure. I’d like to build the International Space Station, but I don’t really have anywhere to put it. No big deal. I’m not in any kind of hurry. Lord knows I have plenty of other things to do.
It’s time to roll the calendar over. Out with the old and blah, blah, blah. Still, I managed to surprise myself with my thought process.
From my last Facebook post:
2021 wasn’t exactly like 2020, but it wasn’t much of an improvement. Once again, the calendar offers us a new year. I’m choosing to enter it with a guarded sense of — dare I say it — hope.
I hope COVID manages to mutate its way into irrelevance.
I hope it becomes trendy to listen to the smart people again and follow their advice.
I hope the solution to my back woes is VERY close.
I hope I get to use the driver my sister got me for retirement on many Chicago golf courses.
I hope my book resonates with the people who matter most.
I hope to finally be able to properly explore the new city I love and call home.
I hope I can spend more time around people without worrying they might make me sick.
I hope you achieve your goals, follow your dreams, and make the world your oyster.
I hope we as a people start taking baby steps toward true humanity.
Happy New Year, everyone. Here’s hoping …