May You Live In Interesting Times

We certainly picked a doozy of a time to be alive, didn’t we? From the Cold War through assassinations through foreign wars through riots right through escalating violence on up to today, these certainly are interesting times. Of course, there have been some great things, too, but after getting through the past nine months with all the political unrest, the environmental disasters, and last Sunday’s horrific event in Las Vegas, I’m finding it extremely difficult to dredge those up. I don’t usually address these things here because it seems to make some people uncomfortable enough to chide me and even boot me from their life. Instead, I take my angst to Twitter where it belongs. But I’m just so damned angry. And that’s what I really want to talk about.

Look, I’m not an angry person. Never have been. Maybe it’s because I’m a Libra, but I tend to see the pony beneath every crap pile. I can’t seem to do that right now, and what’s tearing me up is that I’m not clear on anger. There’s just so many angry people making a lot of noise and I don’t really want to add to that, but damn! I’m angry!

There comes a time when I think we have to be angry, despite the conflicting messages we’re told: “Stop being angry” and “It’s okay to be angry.” Add that to the line my mother planted in my brain, “Anger is a sin,” and I’m pretty confused and seeking clarity. As I said, I don’t want to add to the noise, but maybe I do, and maybe I should. Maybe more noise is what it’s going to take to change things. Is there a way to process this anger and grief without being unkind, without name-calling and turning ugly? I don’t know. I wish I had a priest, or a guru, or something. I’d love to ask someone what I’m supposed to be feeling.

Monday was a hell day extraordinaire. I hadn’t slept all night because I was up following the news about Las Vegas. I couldn’t sleep, actually, because of the heavy hammer of shock and grief I know we all felt. Before that, it was Trump’s debacle in Puerto Rico. Then the shooting happened. Lynette had a chemo treatment that day—the first of 12 with her new drug—and we didn’t know what her reaction would be. It wasn’t good and, as usual, I felt helpless to make her feel better, that I couldn’t take it for her. And then came the news of Tom Petty’s heart attack and approaching death. So there I was at the hospital, sleepless, worried about Nettl, in shock over Vegas, grieving the passing of one of my favorite musical artists, and feeling absolutely powerless in every facet of life. Later that night the anger rose to the top and I spent all night voicing it in Twitter, adding to the noise. And once again I was forced to face down my conflicting feelings about it. I did a lot of Googling, trying to learn how other people handle anger, and the words of the amazing Maya Angelou helped me.

 

I think there comes a time when we can’t afford to be uninformed and uninvolved. There comes a time when we have to ask ourselves how we can remain inside peaking out through the half-drawn blinds of our comfort zone. Not all of us are first responders, caregivers, soldiers. Not all of us are heroes, but all of us are human beings who can care, who must care.

I hope you find clarity and peace, if you’re struggling. My kindest affections and most loving thoughts to you all, and to everyone affected by these events.

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A New Normal

What a long, strange month it’s been!

I won’t go into everything that’s entailed in Nettl’s diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer—you’ve probably read all about that in Facebook—but I will tell you it’s been busy, busy with various doctors’ appointments, tests, surgeries, and now, chemotherapy. The first week was the worst as far as I’m concerned, because we didn’t have a prognosis, but once we were told it’s completely curable things were a little less stressful and frightening. A little. Over the next three weeks things eased up even more, and we had so many beautiful people step up to help us in a myriad of ways, from simply dropping by to see her, to giving her a head-shaving party, to sending flowers, to organizing a meal train for those nights following her treatments, as well as donating financially for all the out-of-pocket and co-pay expenses. We are simply bowled over by the compassion and helpfulness of so many, many people! You’re wonderful and we love you all!

Finally, life has evened out a little. We’re not living our old normal, you know, but we are adapting to the new normal. I may even be able to get back to my projects soon. I confess, after being the primary caregiver for both of my parents before their deaths in their turn, I panicked a little. I have a bit of a “jinx” complex where people dying on my watch is concerned. Unwarranted, sure, but it happens I guess. My own doctor put me on some anti-anxiety meds and I’m feeling much stronger now, and as I said, when Nettl’s prognosis came back as 99% positive, I let go of that old script in my head. Get thee behind me!

So there’s not much else to report. I had aspirations of addressing the revolting goings-on over last weekend, but everyone else has done such a better job and, frankly, I don’t have the energy. Even the threat of nuclear war didn’t faze me much. I grew up with that, and taking care of Nettl while her body’s being nuked by the old Red Devil chemo drug (called that because it literally looks like red Kool-Aid) was just so much more important to me.

Heads Up: I cancelled my September house concert; I can’t even think of doing that until this is all over. She’ll receive chemo until the end of the year and then have surgery followed by who knows how many radiation treatments. I’m looking at about a year. Meantime, I hope your summer was nice and that you were able to get a vacation. Life is stressful for everyone these days.

Have a great week!
Kaye

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I think to know when to call it quits, cry uncle, throw in the towel, etc., must be a sixth sense that only some people have. Timing is everything. To do so too soon means you’ll never reach whatever goal you’ve set, and it certainly means you’re going to have regrets later. To do so too late means you’re probably experiencing burn-out. You’ll also have regrets, regrets that you wasted so much time and energy on something that was never meant to be in the first place. As Ali Hale wrote in her blog entry, How to Know When to Quit,

“Quitting gets a bad rap. We’re often encouraged,
from an early age, 
to stick with our projects at
all costs—even when we’re totally fed up.”

For me, packing up the recording gear is especially hard because all I’ve ever wanted since I was 12 was to make an album, but no matter how much talent I had, no matter how many famous and influential people I met, no matter how hard I worked or how many gigs I played, it just never happened. Even now, with modern home recording tools, I can’t seem to accomplish this one thing. I gave it all up once before, in 1993, and I more recently thought that by giving it a rest, I could come back to it refreshed and with a more mature outlook about it. But it seems the universe continues to throw up roadblocks. No room to use as a studio, noisy corner, insufficient knowledge of using modern studio programs, Hashimoto’s, adrenal fatigue, etc., etc. That’s daunting enough, but with Nettl’s diagnosis (only two weeks ago) of breast cancer, I must cry out in utter defeat.

(Of course, it’s understood that I care deeply and am dedicated to the utmost degree to seeing her through this terrifying and upsetting ordeal not only as her spouse, but also her friend and caregiver, but since this is my blog and I have no right to speak for her, I will focus on my feelings and reactions here. If anyone has a problem with that, too effin’ bad.)

It’s not that I wasn’t already considering putting the music away, permanently, because I was. I mean, I’m almost 66. Who was going to buy my album anyway? And I certainly don’t have the health, energy, or the finances to tour just to market it. It’s time to let go.

What I have been doing is working on my memoirs again, In fact, the first book is already finished. Writing is something I can do anywhere. I don’t need a private space, quiet, and I know my writing programs. Sure, books need marketing, too, but I don’t have to traipse all over the country; I can do it from home. The problem is, my heart’s dream has always been music, but c’est la vie. I’m fortunate to have two things I do well. Truth be told, rock and roll is for the young; old farts write books.

I don’t know how much I’ll be blogging, either. The year ahead looks pretty foggy to us just now, but I will try to leave a post as often as I can. I’ve seen people through cancer before and I know how the best laid plans can go askew.

Keep us in your thoughts.
Kaye

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