A new season, a broken toe, hot tubbin’, and a cold that won’t quite leave

I love living in New Mexico, and I love the seasons. Autumn has gently started; we still have mild weather and quiet nights, but the leaves are changing. It’s beautiful. I’ll trick myself into ignoring that it’s what precedes winter – not my favorite time of year – and enjoy what is usually a long and enjoyable autumn.

I’m almost done with my live music obligations for now; I have a couple little things coming up and they’re going to be fun, and I’ve got a couple more ambitious things I’ll dabble with that may be fun. My day work picks up about this time of year, and it’s starting early. (Maybe. It’s hard to remember exactly what 12 months ago looked and smelled like.) I’m hoping for enough calm spots to get back to working on my own music a little, and out of my busy period, and once my studio’s reassembled I’ll probably want to practice and play again, but when I have to keep things broken down to move them it’s hard to motivate. I made a couple new friends and played some of my best live music gigs since I moved here. Also some (*ahem*) “learning” experience type gigs. (I keep hoping that I’ll go through a day or a week without learning something, most learning involves some kind of pain. Maybe one day.) And I’m even more open to playing jazz again now after years of avoiding it. Selfishly, I have to admit that it’s because if I refuse anything with jazz, that means hardly any gigs at all since a non-jazz-playing jazz musician is not that useful outside music that needs non-jazz-playing jazz musicians, but being open to what’s available seems like it’s not the worst thing.

I heard my wife and daughter screaming in the living room the other day, and as a dad, my adrenal gland figured it was terrorists or something so I kicked my office chair over and fought my way out of the between-gigs mess on the floor, instruments, cables, stands, whatever. I don’t even remember what they were screaming about, probably a popsicle fell on the floor or something. In my forceful exit of my office, I damaged another toe, it’s dark purple top to bottom. Again. I’ve tried to convey that it’s important to save the “armed robbers have entered the house” type of scream for occasions that require my powerful intervention, and to maybe consider picking a slightly mellower “I dropped a popsicle” scream for occasions that aren’t worth me breaking limbs to arrive quickly for. As with anything else, we shall see. Meanwhile, it’s pretty interesting to note how often dogs step on that EXACT TOE, and how often my daughter uses my feet to either jump off or push up from the floor on. My cries of agony create alarm in my family when the button gets pushed, and they’ve encouraged me to find a less startling way to express that my damaged appendage has been trod upon once again. But in this case, I am actually using my “you’re standing on my broken toe” yell, so what are you going to do?

After months sitting dormant, I set up and got my hot tub working again over the weekend. We had some issues with it last year, and after it was sorted out by our dealer, we let it just sit there in our garage-that’s-not-a-garage. We figured we’d landscape and do all sorts of stuff that would allow us to move it outside our bedroom over the summer. Anette made tons of progress in getting the yard in shape, but we’re pretty short of being hot tub ready, so I figured why wait? I don’t regret parking it indoors again, I’ve missed it. It reminded me of the day it arrived, and as we were setting it up in its first home, our bedroom, my daughter jumped off the bed and landed squarely on my broken toe and I couldn’t even talk for a couple seconds; I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to let people jump on a broken toe, and for good reason. Even if they’re small people. So there’s some kind of broken toe – hot tub connection. Or not. My cold prevents me from smelling much (although it’s getting better), and while I’m confident I’m measuring the chemicals appropriately, my family assures me that the room with the hot tub in it has a pretty strong chlorine smell. I take their word for it.

The day after my really busy period ended, a cold started. My middle class work ethic programmed my subconscious mind to stave the cold off until I had time to recover, and it worked out pretty well. But delaying the onset of the cold that my daughter first showed evidence of maybe 4 weeks ago seems to have made the cold hit even harder, and it’s been difficult to shake. It’s not anything tragic, just a bad autumn head cold. Last week, it was vitamins and zinc and ginseng and eccinacea and fluids and tea, and occasional cold medicine if I needed to actually accomplish something. But the novelty of the cold has worn off, so I brought out my big guns – the astragalus root. I boil it for a while, add more water, boil it some more, and finally drink the result in a tea cup with honey. It doesn’t have much taste to begin with, and with my cold, I barely even get the honey taste. (I mean to say, it doesn’t taste bad as some herbal stuff might.) So now, it’s starting to really turn around. Astragalus is amazing, and while some people use it as a tonic, I use it like antibiotics. Seems to work about as well and about as fast, and my body doesn’t need to “recover” from it as it would with an antibiotic series. As strange as it sounds, I don’t dread being sick, it is what it is. But it addles my mind enough that I’m getting tired of it, so it’s time to move on.

So I’m trying to feel better, partly so I can work more effectively by day, partly so I’m less grumpy by night, and partly because there’s so much to do. I have some little things I want to get started with my new friend Chris Cushman, an amazing musician and composer I did a couple gigs with at the state fair. He and Cloud and I are going to gig at Grandma’s in November, that’ll be great, and we’re working on our first round of promotional stuff, demos, etc. Another friend is trying to organize a jam with a couple people we know, and some guys doing a movie soundtrack want to record it to use as grist for their electronic chop-chop work, that’ll be fun if we can organize it, but it’s remarkably hard to get 3 or 4 people in the same room at the same time, perhaps more here than other places I’ve lived. My friend Shunnae’s record release is in a couple weeks, and I’m doing a sort-of-classical thing with a cello player, it’s a 12-minute kids’ piece in 6 movements for a small group. It’s been fun to read music again for a minute and play a different kind of music with a different group; I’m definitely not trying to enter or re-enter that world, but reaching outside my comfort zone (whatever that is?) is good for me. There’s another artist who my friend Larry is producing, and we’re going to see what kind of collaboration we can come up with. I still have my own album’s completion in my targets, but that’s for when “everything else is done,” so that may remain an elusive target. My friend Pete has broached maybe working together on some stock music stuff, and if we can steal enough time from our other commitments, it could only be a blast. I have my newest Rhodes to find some cool use for, and I want to shuffle my office enough that I can start working on left hand bass on organ again. Stuff to do.

It’s a promising sounding season; on one hand, anything that’s still 4 weeks away sounds fun. On the other hand, I’ve been ranting about wanting some change and this is a season of change and it’s an election year so we’re in a culture of change (hopefully for the better), so it could be fun. I feel drawn toward something that I can’t quite explain, and maybe an opportunity to make it clearer will come up as I’m working on all this stuff. I feel like getting more involved with non-music creative efforts. Photography remains fun, I’m reluctant to wreck my enjoyment with a business agenda but it may not have to be that way. I might take a class in something; I’d like to study Sumi-E painting maybe. I got away from writing about the time my gig business started, and I’m getting back into it, but I’ve been reading voraciously so it doesn’t feel like any momentum has been lost. (True or not.) Haruki Murakami is definitely a current favorite, really stimulating for me. I’m also evaluating my parental role; my kid started a real preschool, Waldorf, a couple weeks ago, and all that goes along with it is plenty to process. I read a book called Freakanomics recently, it was about an economist who has pretty inventive ways of using microeconomic tools to analyze real life issues. AIDS; abortion; education. One thing the book points out is that who parents are matters, but most of what makes them matter happened before the kid was born – genes. Indicators of “smart” genes, lots of books in the house, for instance, are more important than actions of the parents, reading every night or forbidding television, for example. Not in terms of a moral sense or anything like that, just looking statistically at how things work, that’s how it seems to go. Makes me rethink the private school thing a little; you want to do what’s best for your kid, but the responsibility these days is for parents to separate what makes them feel like they’re making a difference versus what actually makes a difference. Can’t say I’m always good at it, but it’s something to work on.