In one place

He shakes the ground where he stands. Rage between the lines, because he remembers a different view, a heavenly one from above, fast in flight, and only the fleeting touch. He forgets the beauty of stillness.

His salvation (for mankind) is movement, “miracles … happen as we trip.”

Will he give her a symphony when this is all over?

Music isn’t a Pop Game

Music isn’t a game. But pop is, was, and always will be, apparently.

I’m a diehard pop fan. I grew up on the Top 40 and I make no apologies for it. My father and my mother were pop fans too, in their own time. They gave me an acquired taste for bossa nova jazz, rock, and Broadway tunes. My younger brother turned me onto metal, and my former fiancé, alternative college radio (The Caulfields’ “Rickshaw!”).

Lately, I’ve been watching “The Pop Game” on Lifetime, knowing full well this isn’t real music and these aren’t real musicians. Well, except for Ian, the Texan guitarist, songwriter, and singer who has routinely given me chills by tuning the popular masses out and tuning into his own, almost angular vibe.

So, obviously, Cravetay is my least favorite.

Amateur pitchy wannabes like her are the reason mainstream music’s suffered from a disturbing lack of talent, creativity, depth. Like “world renowned” record producer Timbaland says more than once, We can fix the vocals, but you’re born with swag.

I think what pisses me off the most about this show and this pervasive attitude that anyone can be famous is the whole cult of personality disease infecting our free world.

Talent does and should matter. Other art forms require talent, why not music?

Like all art, the best is when the artist allows the muse to flow in then out, projecting his/her true voice without any adulteration, auto-tune, social media hype, or stylist. Art is truth.

No other art form can lay such truth bare better than music. No other art form requires the artist develop his/her voice to the best of his/her ability more.

I’ve heard too many real artists go unnoticed because the big box office studios prefer to go with superficials, the almighty physical appearance, almighty youth, that stupid excuse for bullshit called swag.

Swag is personality. Personality combined with ability equals truth in art.

Watching and disparaging what others do isn’t art. Ask any closet poet who writes from the bottom of a pit of hell of his own making.

Focusing solely on yourself as “the star” isn’t music. The music is what matters. Someone like Cravetay will never improve as long as she plays to that shallow bottom line, even if she will probably win the Pop Game. Because isn’t that what the world wants? Sugar on the fiber cereal, pass the Pop Tarts.

I’m also listening to a lot of fatalistic indie music lately, which drives home the point even more that life’s too short for games of any sort, pop or otherwise.

Not sure why. Maybe because my own time is at hand (I’m in my 50s, not getting any younger, and there’s this shooting pain near my pelvic bone) and the universe likes to fuck with me like that.

Those musicians have a shit-ton to say, and they say it thoughtfully with a whirlwind of artful instruments at their disposal, distilled down to the raw, gritty nub through their flawed, heartbroken, heartrending, imperfectly open humanity.

They’re not about putting on a glamorous show where one guy wins, and the other loses. They’re about collaborating so we can feel better about ourselves, so we don’t feel as alone, so we can feel something.

The only thing I feel when I watch “Pop Game” is rage, and the urge to throw my remote at the TV as hard as I can.

Sidelined

We attended the soccer match tonight. It felt good to support the team, even though my son injured out with a fractured knee and MCL sprain.

People showered him with love, from his teammates to his English teacher whose son played for Varsity. She gave him a muffin. Once, I looked up through the early evening shower to catch one of the JV defenders pat him on the back.

He would never admit this, but he was glad I made him go when — at the last minute — he tried to back out.

We plan to go to every game to support the JV and Varsity squads. They’re his teams too, even if he can no longer join them on the pitch, in the heat of battle. I hope one day he will understand how much it means for him to be there.

Most people go their entire lives going the easy route, staying home, nursing their private wounds, checking out because they can’t be a part of the action or, heaven forbid, the center of attention.

I never want my son to be one of those kind of people. They’re a dime a dozen.

Final scores: Kamiak JV lost 1-4 in a brutal match, but Varsity beat Mariner 2-1 in a very heated game with terrible refereeing. I’m banking on our Varsity team winning every game from now till the end of April for personal reasons.

Go, Knights!

So, this happened…

“Come pick me up. Messed up my knee. Walk-in clinic. Coach said it’s most likely a knee sprain. When you have time can you email Ryan? I’m sorry, mom.”

My son’s text came at 6:44 p.m. today, right as I was finishing the other ear of my second try at a new crochet cat hat.

X-rays showed an avulsion fracture, a sprain of the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) on the left knee. While going for the ball during a scrimmage — with only 30 minutes left to the two-hour practice at school — my son hyper-extended his left knee, backward, really hard. Hard enough to cause a small fracture at the knee joint.

As the doctor and the two nurses at the walk-in clinic made a joke out of this entire process, I found myself doing what I always do when overwhelmed: I closed my eyes, fighting hard to stay present, and not to cry out loud.

When I picked my son up from practice to take him to the walk-in clinic, he complained that I wasn’t reacting well, like before back in Jan. when he broke his pinky playing a soccer tournament. Back then, I joked around, I made it okay for him to take this in stride.

This time, I couldn’t take the universe piling on any longer. Not on this kid, not again.

Earlier in the day, he’d received the all-clear from a hand specialist for the pinky he’d broken. On the drive back to school, I remembered lecturing him against taking every moment of his precious life for granted with boredom or argumentatively nitpicking semantics with his mom. Don’t be complacent, I’d said, you never know what could happen.

He maintained that I was being too negative about his knee injury — until the doctor gave us the results of the x-ray: it’s a mild injury, considering, but definitely a fracture, there, most likely no surgery, and the recovery time’s only about six weeks, four on crutches.

Six weeks is a lifetime, an entire season of JV soccer — his first, the one he worked all his life for, enduring rejection after rejection during Premier/Select tryouts last spring, the lean years before when we couldn’t afford the better, elite clubs.

As soon as the diagnosis hit him, my son felt just as upset and overwhelmed.

So, we do this all over again: wait for the orthopedic office to call for an appointment next week, keep the injured limb immobile, ice, rest, elevate, “Do you want a note for the school and P.E.?”

Before he went to bed, I cleaned his good leg with a soapy washcloth and a bowl full of warm water. I wiped his leg dry, noticing it shake uncontrollably, recalling one of the coaches at school telling me about that when the injury first happened.

The uncontrollable shaking is a part of the side effects from his asthma/allergy meds, which exacerbate whatever condition he was born with. His cross to bear.

Most of my frustration and anger at the universe went away at that point. I was reminded of my son’s individual mortality, the idiosyncrasies that make up his DNA and forge his character.

Here was this young boy who seems impossibly strong, invincible. Yet, I knew better. I’d seen his soft spots, the vulnerabilities, the handicaps he’s had to overcome in his short, 15 years, the back-to-back trips to the ER (three-four), the asthma attacks, the anxiety that comes with keeping on top of a list of prescriptions most adults don’t ever need…

I know many, many other people have to deal with so much worse. I know I sound so selfish and wrong crying about my one child who is at least alive and able to reasonably function.

But right this very minute, I’m allowing myself to be upset for him, to be as selfish about his happiness as the rest of you are about your own.

You have no idea how long he’s waited to play competitive JV soccer for his high school, how hard he worked to make tryouts after so many “experts” in the game dismissed him or pointed out his drawbacks in the most humiliating fashion, what he’s had to put up with to get to this moment… only for the universe to seemingly revel in taking it all back.

 

Tomorrow is the long-anticipated game against a rival high school. My son looked forward to helping his JV team fight the good fight on the pitch. Thirty minutes, 30 fucking minutes, then he would’ve enjoyed a good night’s sleep, school, and the game of a lifetime, the second in the season.

Tomorrow, we’ll be there — G-d willing — him to support his team on the sidelines, me to take pictures, before heading back home in his crutches and the long climb upstairs to rest, and maybe dream of something better up ahead.

Spring

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My parents never told me what it is to die a slow, painless death. But I came from a time where you didn’t talk about these things. You just ate the last cocktail olive, wiping away the crumbs with a paper towel, and waited until the children were in bed before taking the knives out.

Somehow, while I spent my entire lifetime chasing their mottled, three-car garage dreams, I forgot to look at myself. My shadow has wandered off between 30 and here. I am a ghost, waiting to remember my epitaph.

And, I never danced with you.

Peace Now

I’m reading. He’s good, tucking maybe regret, definitely affection — as a man would — in intentional throwaway recollection, the kind with marks.

Last night, I enjoyed my first home-cooked meal, a bowl of spaghetti sauce, organic, and a ton of broccoli. Sleep came in a brain wave of this light blue-green stitch and an endless series of possibility. Just past midnight, which is abnormal for me.

But I’m up now. Sunless.

Her repetition doesn’t seem right for this half-assed, ultimately cool, belated eulogy.

Touch and Go

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She sits by the computer window, waiting to hear a personal moment — usually tucked in the middle of his fire and brimstone sermon. Usually, she is there, dressed up as a life lesson, an example to be made of sacrilege.

Casualties of war, they once bonded over forbidden fruit, the cut of the smallest piece of cartilage, the impulse to flee, imagined hurts, daydreams of resurrection — real fire and brimstone, as they bore into flesh, tore apart the good bones of the brokenhearted victims of her anatomy.

With every passing service, he worshiped away the remains of his angry young man into the role of the pious, spouting scripted Scripture, carefully maintaining polite society, strangers gathered together on the first day of Bible study.

Every other year, she pores over transient pages of their shared past, drawn together by mutual hatred of the prodigal daughter who got away — the one he fantasized about the fucking from behind, the one who blamed her for everything.

In her intermittent dreams, she sits there still, three rows behind the exit, waiting for his return, wading through the grandchildren, the ex-pat rejects, hungry parishioners unlocking their jaws for one more crumb from the Bread of Life.

The hours between Sabbath and Monday are always the loneliest.