Wednesday, December 12, 2007


So, last Saturday night, after all the insanity of the first part of the day was done, Ms. Geranium/Ether and I attended the Bereaved Parents Support Group's remembrance service. Ms. G/E wrote about it and did a much better job than I could. Every year, it seems that it falls on the same day as Sparkly Seacow's final play of the season which also means cast party, which in turn means preparing food for the party, buying last minute "Secret Buddy" gifts and either chauffeuring kids or making arrangements with other parents to do the chauffeuring. Then it's off in a mad rush to get to the service in time to tune up. Then we get to stop for an hour of stillness, listening, thinking about our daughter, Sophie, and also all the people around us who have also lost children. It's an intensely emotional experience.

After the service, there was some time for socializing with the people we've come to know over the years, but then it was off to a gig with The Reptile Palace Orchestra. The service was on Madison's far west side and the gig on the not-too-far east side. And, of course, it was snowing, so visibility and road conditions weren't too good. Since I had stayed at the service a little longer than I had planned, I had to keep reminding myself to take it easy; I would make it with enough time to get set up and, even if I didn't, there was no need to hurry. Once I got there, of course there wasn't a parking spot anywhere near the house where we were playing, so I lug my gear through the snow, running late (although I had warned the rest of the group I would be showing up at the last minute) and feeling a little stressed once again. I had no idea for whom we were playing (this is not an unusual occurrence with this group - I go where they tell me to go and see what's what when I get there), I only knew it was a private party. Upon entering the building, which was a large old mansion, I found a wild party in full swing. We were playing on the third floor, so up the two flights of steps to a large, crowded remodeled attic, trying to politely work my way through all the party-goers with my bass and assorted pieces of equipment. Fortunately, I was able to do it in only two trips. The band before us was still playing, so I needn't have worried, after all. I stashed my stuff in a corner and looked around for the rest of my band mates, none of whom were anywhere in sight. When I found some of them (gathered around the food, of course!), I inquired as to the nature of the festivities. It turned out that it was the annual holiday party for a local hospital's emergency-room staff. I must say it was quite a contrast, going from the remembrance service with it's sober mood, to this gathering of people hell-bent on having fun. When I say wild, I don't mean the excessive drinking of a fraternity party, but there was a definite sense of people letting loose. Many were dressed to the nines (or maybe tens or elevens) and there was an impressive spread of food and drink that appeared to have been catered by an organization that hired young Russian women to keep the refreshments well-stocked. One band member thought the servers were volunteers from the hospital staff, but that seemed unlikely to me. Anyway, I was definitely feeling a bit overwhelmed by the extreme environmental juxtaposition. It must have been obvious since our singer approached me to make sure I was alright. It seemed like it was going to be a loooong night.

Now, please bear with me a moment while I go off on a tangent about what keeps me playing music despite the meager rewards. After most gigs, I can look back and think "that went pretty well," or "I had a good time tonight" or "that wasn't my best gig," or something along those lines. People tell me I'm a good bassist. I make no such claims, but, every now and then, for some reason that I'm not able to reproduce at will (the moon is in the seventh house, or something like that), I can have a sort of out-of-body experience while playing; I feel like I'm channeling some god (goddess?) or other, or I've somehow managed to tap into some primal force. It feels pretty good. Better than just about anything in the world, actually. I'm not saying that I do anything that anyone else couldn't do, or that anyone listening would even notice anything different from any other night, but when that happens it feels as if the music flows right through me without any interference from my brain. It's those moments that keep me playing through the times when I feel like a terrible bassist, it's too much work, I don't get paid enough, and all those other things that could cause one to hang it up. That probably doesn't make any sense at all, but it's the best I can do for now.

So, back to the party. Okay? Okay. Dreadfully hot, crowded and I feel like my head is going to explode from too much everything before we even start playing. Then, we start, and I have one of those nights. Maybe it was due to the spiritual nature of the remembrance service. Maybe the moon was in the seventh condo on the right. Maybe it was because everyone in attendance was flying high and I knew I could stray into uncharted territory and no one would notice or, if they did, care. Maybe it was some combination of all of the above. Or maybe it was just the weird mould on the unpronounceable cheese. I really don't know, but it seemed that the whole band was listening and responding to each other exceptionally well and at least some of the audience was really enjoying the music. It was great.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

You've been tagged.

Suzy said...

Good post, my dear. Reading it makes me realize that we have hardly spoken to one another this week! The crazy busy-ness continues. I need a trip to the sauna.

Crayons said...

Hi Ed,

This is your best post so far. Profound content wrapped in deceivingly off-the-cuff prose. You are a natural storyteller.

I love the way you honor Sophie's very brief appearance on Earth by keeping her memory alive.

Your description of flow is exact. I my own case it comes out of my crayons. I never know when it will come. Ego melts away to reveal pure energy.

Cinderbelle said...

I, too, know exactly what you're talking about, daddy, and I bet the people around you notice. Remember when ESP did "Rehearsal for Murder" last fall? I got the most compliments on my acting from that show, and it was the time where I felt as if I were actually in the moment onstage. It was almost a religious experience. So, yeah, you're not crazy. :-)