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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Leaves, Books, Memories

SK Waller in Fort Worth
Enjoying the hotel life

Getting back into the swing after my week in Fort Worth has been a bit of a struggle. Coming back home to housework, refilling prescriptions, taking care of business, and my usually placid day-to-day lifestyle hasn’t been easy. Okay, I admit it. I really enjoyed the hotel life. Really enjoyed it. I enjoyed working on music with Wade Johnson (who’s in the studio as I write this, recording one of the two songs we wrote together), and I loved going out to hear live music with him and his wife, Terri.  When I was younger I went out like this with friends every week of my life, but these days I’m lucky if I get out once a year. So here I am in my wing back chair with the cat beside me while a driveway full of leaves begs to be raked. Am I going to get up off my butt and do that though? No. Not today. And not tomorrow, either. Probably on Saturday, but it may wait until Sunday. Or next week. I can’t seem to bring myself back to writing, either, damn it. I spent Monday on the house thinking it would free me up to spend the rest of the week finishing Book 2, but it, like the leaves outside, waits. In the meantime—until I can locate my motivation—here are some photos of the night we went to The Railhouse to listen (and dance!) to A Band Of Brothers, a great group that played everything from country to R&B.

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With Wade and Lynette
terri_kaye_lynette
With Terri and Lynette (Don’t ask about the 13. I have no idea why I grabbed it; it was just our table number)
kaye_wade
With Wade Johnson, my music buddy since 1972
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The Journey Out

creative freedom

I wasn’t a particularly social kid. I had one or two good friends, but even they didn’t get a lot of my time. I spent “off” time in my room playing records, reading and drawing and, when in my teens, I added writing music, stories and letters to that list. I was social only on occasion and I had no trouble declining invitations to leave my private world. I never was what people call popular, either, and that was fine. When I got into my late 20s and early 30s, though, I suddenly became popular and acquired a large circle of casual friends, but I still maintained only two or three close friendships with people I’d known since childhood.

Myers-Briggs tells me I’m an Extroverted Introvert, which explains everything. I love people, but in small doses, and even at the peak of my long period of extroversion (which lasted nearly three decades) I was happiest when the party was over and I could spend the week in seclusion recharging my battery. I almost forgot that I’m actually a loner and that I need a lot of alone time. Recently, this has all come back to me and my Facebook hiatus is reuniting me with a part of myself that has been neglected for far too long. Even the thought of hosting an occasional party doesn’t excite me like it used to do. Anymore, it just means a week of preparation, a week of cleanup, and a month of Hashimoto’s-induced fatigue.

When we’re young we crave social interaction with a lot of variety, which is only natural given our biological imperative to procreate the species. We need lots of candidates to choose from and a lot of support, but now that that’s all over for me, the thought of having fewer casual friends is more a relief than anything else. Unfortunately, every single one of my lifelong friends are gone now, which leaves me no one to call when the rare moment of loneliness hits. But this is what my marriage fulfills, and is supposed to fulfill. I have a best friend in Nettl and the fact that we’ve been together for 16 years is no small consideration. I’m blessed and grateful that she fills the void in me that my old friends left. Maybe not 100%—there are just some things JP Deni supplied that no one else ever will, but then again, Deni didn’t fulfill every emotional need that Nettl does. With childhood friends it really comes down to shared memories of more innocent, carefree times, and life has a way of moving you along, especially when you’re the last living survivor.

waving-goodbye-joana-kruse
Photo by Joana Kruse

Twice now I’ve watched a circle of casual friends make a mass exodus from my life. Different people, of course, but the same phenomenon. The first group were hangers on who anticipated my impending “fame and fortune” and wanted to be along for the ride. When an important contract fell through they left en masse within a matter of days. This time it’s harder to name and harder to stomach. It’s ugly and based in lies and betrayal, a refusal to communicate, and probably a lot of misunderstanding. Good riddance to both groups. When the first group left I was elevated to the highest creative period my life has known. I’m anticipating even better things this time around because the pain is much greater. (I’m a big believer in relativity.) In both cases, the pain is a blessing in disguise and the “pony under the pile” is that I have more emotional space to do the things that are really important to me.

I’m calling it creative freedom.

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