Moving Melodies: The Heart of the Matter

I didn’t even like her music particularly, well the one song I had heard. They played it on Alice, my favorite radio station, All. The. Time. Funny that now I can’t remember the song to save my life. Not that I would want to. Well, maybe to save my life. But nothing short of self preservation could make me want to remember that song now.

Every September, Alice hosts a music festival in Golden Gate Park called Now and Zen Fest. Each year there are three to five acts that appear and most years, they aren’t interesting enough, to me, to brave the crowds and the chaos and the extended travel time (two hours to go eight miles by public transit.) Eight years ago, there were a couple of musical acts that were actually appealing to me. The price of the tickets, though, was prohibitive for me to attend.

I listened to the radio station at work everyday and when the DJ said to call in for free passes to the festival, I started dialing, not even listening, hearing or caring what else she had to say about it.

We have what I consider to be an antiquated phone system in my building, but with well over 2500 individual handsets it would cost, literally, half a million dollars to replace so we stick with it until we can’t any more. This phone system has a pause before dialing the number you keyed and I was sure this would prevent me from being the requisite caller and winning the passes so you can imagine my surprise when the phone actually rang.

I’m the tenth caller, I thought. They wanted the ninth. They’ve already gotten the right caller and they’re just letting the rest of the lines ring. It just wasn’t possible that I had won. And then the DJ answered the phone and asked me my name. I couldn’t believe I was the correct caller. I had won two free passes to Alice’s Now and Zen Fest, 2002. And what else? There’s more? Wow. I didn’t expect more. Oh. My guest and I would also get to come back stage to meet none other than India Arie. OK. Whatever. Don’t care!

I took my friend Michelle, because for as long as I’ve lived in California, twelve years and one month, she is the only person I ever do anything with. When it comes to an actual social life, she’s it. Michelle was actually excited to meet India Arie. I couldn’t have cared less.

The concert starts at noon and they don’t open the gates until 11:00 but people start lining up early in the morning. We arrived at the park at about 11:40 having no idea how long it would take to get there, or how long the line would be or what it would look like inside the gates. My free passes afforded me no special treatment, beyond the brief adventure backstage where I would meet a recording artist I didn’t even like. As it turns out, 20,000 people make for a very long line and even though the gates had been open for forty minutes already when we arrived, the line was still quite long. We brought a quilt to sit on, and Michelle pulled a bottle of spray on sun screen out of her purse and proceeded to spray her exposed flesh (she never wears shorts) and rub the concoction in. When she was finished she offered the bottle to me.

I don’t know if this has ever been discussed on this site, but Michelle is a moderately light skin toned black woman. Sun burn is a possibility but not a major concern. I, on the other hand, am of Irish, Scottish, English and German ancestry and I’m certain I’ve made no secret of the fact that you could find me in the middle of a forest at midnight on a cloudy night with no stars or moon and without the aid of a search light because I’d be the one glowing from the collective rays of the sun through the day prior to the presumed maroon-ment (there’s a word I want to use here, but it’s completely escaping me) that had you searching for me in the first place.

Michelle offered me the bottle of sun screen, looking at my bare arms and legs. I declined. “Nah, I’ll be OK. I could use a little sun.” Of my siblings and me, I’m the only one who wasn’t cursed with red hair and while I got a very similar complexion, I actually do retain a minimal amount of tan after my skin heals, when I get a sun burn. A little bit of a sun burn would heal nicely into a barely perceptible (except to me) tan and I was going to take advantage of the opportunity. Michelle looked at me warily and then put the bottle back in her bag.

When we finally got into the park, there was a sea of humanity as far as the eye could see and in every direction. Quite honestly, I was ready to turn around right then and there, but we had come all this way and Michelle actually wanted to meet India Arie, so fine, we continued our trek into the park.

The meet and greet was supposed to be before one of the bands set but Ms. Arie’s transportation was running late so we were told to come back after her set and we could meet her then. Michelle and I headed into the mass of people in search of a patch of ground big enough to spread out our quilt and not get trampled. What we finally found was easily a quarter mile away from the stage out in the middle of a field with no hope of shade of any kind. San Francisco is not known for its warm weather, although September is the warmest month of the year. But even when the ambient temperature in the city is only in the low to mid 70’s, sitting in the middle of a field, with 20,000 of your nearest and dearest and the sun beating straight down on you, it is hot and very quickly became miserable.

We sat through the second act, the first having played the entire time we were searching for a spot, and I was roasting. I was drenched in sweat (not my favorite) and felt as if my skin had been under a broiler for quite some time. I was in denial and convinced myself that the sun wasn’t that bad and I’d heal nicely to a decent if minimal tan.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, India Arie took to the stage. I was happy, because it meant that soon she’d be finished and we would go to meet her and then Michelle and I could go home. Since it was just the two of us, we weren’t going to leave the quilt behind and if we were taking it with us, we were sure to loose our spot. I wasn’t really interested in staying anyway as I was soaking wet and could no longer deny that my skin hurt.

The meet and greet consisted of six or eight people crowding around India Arie and saying “hi” while trying to shake her hand. When the first person tried to take a picture with Ms. Arie, the promotions person from the station told us there wasn’t time for pictures and said that we should all gather together on either side and they’d take one group picture. She promised she’d make sure we all got a copy. As we walked away I thought, she didn’t get e-mail addresses or home address from any of us. I’m never going to see that picture. It didn’t matter to me, but I’m sure there were some to whom it did.

So what is the point of this typically drawn out story? Well, we’re getting there, so just hold your horses. 😉

The first time I ever heard of India Arie was when this song, which I can no longer remember, that I did not like, started playing on my favorite radio station. I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t care for her, particularly, as a performer. I, of course, had nothing against her personally, but was not impressed with her music. Michelle and I left the park after her set and the meet and greet and I never even heard the band that I had really wanted to see. (I think that was Train, but honestly, I don’t even remember anymore.) I had attended the event in a short sleeved t-shirt with shorts and flip flops. At that point I had not yet fallen prey under the spell of the knee length short fashion. I wasn’t wearing short shorts, but when I was sitting on my quilt on the ground they only went about halfway down my thigh. I walked away from the park that day with what turned out to be second degree burns on the front of my legs that hurt for weeks and it took more than three years for the color (which was red and not tan) to completely fade away. For quite some time after that there was a very discernable line across each of my thighs where the color changed from tomato (or some shade) red to pasty, Elmer’s glue white (OK, not quite that white).

The entire event ended up being an unpleasant experience and when you combine that with the music I didn’t enjoy and the meet and greet that was more of a meet and shoo, I guess I have a less than pleasant reaction to the sound of her voice or the mention of her name.

~~~

There’s a song on my iPod that happens to be performed by India Arie that I absolutely love. I was surprised to realize it was her singing as the song came on the soundtrack for the Sex and the City movie. The song is called The Heart of the Matter originally performed by Don Henley, but I have to be honest, I actually like this version better. I like it because it’s a great mix of genres. It’s not too rock and roll but not too R&B. Her voice, in this song at least is smooth and soothing and you can really feel the emotion of the song while she sings.

Take a look at the lyrics:

I got the call today, I didn’t wanna hear
but I knew that it would come
An old true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone
She said you found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck,
And all the struggles we went through
How I lost me and you lost you
What are all these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?

I’ve been learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning them again
I’ve been trying to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

These times are so uncertain
There’s a yearning undefined
And people filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age
And the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
Are the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the wall they put between us,
You know it doesn’t keep us warm

I’ve been trying to live without you now
But I miss you, baby
The more I know, the less I understand
And all the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my heart is so shattered
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

All the people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down, you know they hurt your pride
Gotta put it all behind you; cause life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you up inside

I wanted happily ever after
And my heart is so shattered
But I know it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me

I’ve been trying to get down to the Heart of the Matter
Because the flesh gets weak
And the ashes will scatter
So I’m thinkin’ about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if you don’t love me anymore

Even if you don’t love me anymore

It’s clear, both from the lyrics in the first verse and from it’s place in the movie that this song is about moving on from a lost love, but I think it’s true that the lyrics mean so much more than that.

It was actually my intention when starting this post to tell you what’s been going on in my head while listening to this song on repeat (because that’s what I do when there’s an emotional response) but I realize now that this post has gone in a very different direction and to get into that now would just be weird and this post is already too long. So instead, I’m just going to leave you with this somewhat unimpressive memory and the mental picture of my pasty white/tomato red “farmers tan” and perhaps save the mental ravings for another day.

Hope you had fun.

Young Girl Don’t Stand So Close To Me

If you’re not a Glee Fan, this won’t mean much to you and you should go find something else to read.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Glee fan, if you are too… Well, read on!

I’m sitting here, doing random non-blogging things and Don’t Stand So Close To Me by The Police comes on the trusty ole iPhone.  Good song.  I’ve liked it for years.

I’m splitting my attention about 70/30 between the task at hand and enjoying the music.  The 30% is tapping my booted toes and bopping my head along with the music.

Suddenly, the 70% is completely distracted from the task at hand with the realization that some portion of the brain (not sure if it’s the 70 or the 30) is looking for lyrics that aren’t there.  Something is wrong.  The lyrics are supposed to be different…

Young teacher, the subject of school girl fantacy
She wants him, so badly, knows what she wants to be
With all the charms of a woman
You kept the secret of your youth…

Clearly, I’ve listened to the Glee soundtrack a few too many times!

By the way, Glee comes back with new episodes on Tuesday!  Yay!

An Apology

There are four things you need to know about me.

  1. I’m a perfectionist.
  2. I’m a bit of a narcissist.
  3. I’m not very good with numbers and math and counting and stuff.

I’m a perfectionist and as such, as soon as I noticed that a lot of the formatting was wonky on my old posts after migrating everything to WordPress I, of course, had to go back through and fix it all.  I’m done now.

I’m also a bit of a narcissist, and what kind of narcissist would I be if I didn’t subscribe to my own blog in Google Reader?  Of course I subscribe to my own blog and of course I read it when I get to it in my feed.

But because of my narcissism, I realized that every time I hit “update post” on a blog after fixing the formatting, WordPress was sending it out to the readers (and I assume the RSS Feeds) as if it were a new post…

So, for those of you who, like good little boys and girls, ran right out and updated your subscription URLs to my new location and now have a ton of “new” Riggledo posts in your reader that are actually months old… I do apologize.  Feel free to ignore them entirely and wait for the new stuff…

Of course it occurs to me that this apology/explanation will be at the end of the list, in which case it will already be too late…

Sorry…

Again.

Runaway

I’m sitting here, staring at my computer screen, knowing, more or less, what I want to say, but not quite sure how to begin.  It’s been just over two weeks from my last post and I think it’s pretty clear that I’m not in a good place right now.  I went to my therapy appointment the following Tuesday and told Deb a lot of the same things I said here, then.  At the end of the session, I handed her my check, and started to stand up when she said, “I feel like I have to ask you where you are right now, with your depression.”

I slumped back onto the couch and sighed.  After a long silence I simply said, “I don’t know.”  It was the end of the session and in truth, her question is the start of another conversation we didn’t have time for.  I really didn’t know quite how to answer her because I haven’t really figured it all out.  I’m sure, at least in part, I’m in denial about the whole thing, but what I know for sure is, I refuse to go back on medication and I’m not willing to go back to the Intensive Outpatient Program I did a couple years ago.  I’d like to think that this whole thing will pass, but I just don’t know.

“Do I need to be concerned about you?” she asked me.  I didn’t understand what she meant at first.  It took a minute to realize she was asking me if I was thinking of hurting myself… or someone else.  I have to confess that I was surprised by the question.  I would have thought that after four years she would know me better than that.  I told her she had nothing to be concerned about.

I don’t remember now what she said next that prompted me to say what I did, but I followed it up by saying, “I’ve had a few dreams in the last couple weeks about not being here anymore.” No sooner had those words escaped my lips before I realized that in the context of what she had just asked me that didn’t sound very good.

I’ve thought a lot about this blog over the last two weeks; what I should write about, when I should write, whether I should write…  The thought of just disappearing from the blogosphere has crossed my mind more than once.  Someone I follow on Twitter and who follows me back sent me a Direct Message that I assume was a response to my last post:

“Kev, your gift is writing. You are thoughtful and gifted.

I didn’t tell him how much I appreciated the comment because, while I did appreciate it, I couldn’t think of anything to say that didn’t include something along the lines of, “Fat lot of good that does me.”

See, and this is going to sound arrogant but, I know I’m a decent writer.  I know that when I write it’s pretty good.  I also know that it’s not the kind of writing I would like to do and that I’m often hard pressed to find something to write about and that while I may be a good writer, the six people who routinely read my writing don’t make for a way to support myself or a significant improvement in my life.  (This is not to say that I don’t appreciate each and every one of you, because I do, but the six of you were around before my last post and my last post still happened so…  I hope that makes my point, because I’m lost now.)

The point is, I may have a gift for writing, but since I’m not able to support myself writing, having that gift doesn’t make my job better, it doesn’t make my job search better, it doesn’t make my personal, spiritual or romantic life better.  It doesn’t make me lose weight or give me motivation to go to the gym…  It doesn’t make my life better.  It’s just one thing that I do sometimes that gives me a modicum of pleasure, but at the same time it’s something else about which I’m dissatisfied.

I’m doing a really bad job of this.  What I think I was trying to say is I didn’t tell my Twitter friend how much I appreciated his comment because I couldn’t fully accept his compliment.  I’m sorry for that and I do appreciate it.

Considering the way my last post ended, and the fact that I haven’t written anything in the last two weeks the thought has crossed my mind that maybe those six readers have begun to worry that maybe I really did hurt myself.  Maybe I have just disappeared and that is that…

Except, for most of you, there is some other form of communication whether it be Twitter or commenting on your blogs.  For most of you, in one way or another, I have proved through other means that I am, in fact, still alive.

Those dreams I’ve had about “not being here”?  They weren’t dreams or fantasies of killing myself, or even of being dead.  They were about running away, disappearing, ceasing to live this life and somehow finding another one instead.

In the first, I dreamt that I went to a family reunion of some sort, I don’t really remember much, but I was very surprised when I met one of my cousins that I didn’t even know about and she turned out to be a famous actress/host.  In the dream we spoke for a long time and while I had the sense that I was making a fool of myself, big surprise, she was very kind and reassuring and really seemed to enjoy our talk and getting to know me.  The dream ended before anything specific happened, but I awoke with the sense that I was going to move to LA, live with her and her family, work for her for awhile and develop a whole new life for myself.

The second dream was actually the very next night.  The details of this dream are quite hazy but what I remember is that I was in England on vacation by myself, but fell so completely in love with it that I decided I wanted to stay.  The basic content of the dream was me waiting to find out and ultimately learning that my visa had been approved and I had to find a place to live and a job.  (It doesn’t work that way, but it was a nice thought anyway.)  I remember a sense of wonderment and excitement.  There was no sense of fear of failure or worry about how I was going to make it.  There was just excitement about the new adventure and a strange certainty that everything would be fine.

Since then, I’ve had a sort of on-going fantasy, of what it would be like to just disappear.  Being the way that I am, it doesn’t take long to snap back to reality and start thinking of all the logistic impossibilities, but I dream…

I’ve written the beginning of that blog post in my head over and over again:

My bags are packed, my phone is charged and the gas tank is filled.  Backing out of the driveway, I take one last look at the house I’ve called “home” for the last three years and then I hit the accelerate, refusing to look back.  I’m going in search of me.  I don’t know where I am or how long it will take, but I’ll find me.  And I’m not coming back until I do.  A modern day wanderer, I’m hitting the open road, searching for adventure.  Who knows what I’ll find?  This is only the beginning…

And then I open my eyes and look around.  I see my possessions, my debt, my bills.  In my minds eye, I see my family, to whom I’m still connected, despite all the differences and complications.  I see logistical entanglements and issues that make the fantasy impossible.

I just bought a brand new car in November.  It’s a hybrid, which could make the journey a little more fuel efficient and it has a navigation system which could make the drive, yes, somewhat less spontaneous, but certainly safer.  But I just bought it.  I still owe…  a lot.

I wonder what the supposed wanderer’s of old would say about all this.  Those guys that drove along route 66 stopping in every town to work odd jobs and stir up trouble didn’t have laptops and iPhones, let alone hybrid motors and navigation systems.  David Banner didn’t have a car at all while he wandered from town to town trying not to get angry (’cause you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.)  And here I am wishing I could pack a few things into my Honda Insight and hit the road looking for adventure while surfing the net and writing blog posts, always a phone call away from safety and comfort should things get too hard.

There are numerous logistic impossibilities, but I dream…