Not that it matters much, but I thought that some my friends might be curious as to where I’ve been. It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything at all, though it’s not for lack of intent. Mostly, so much time has passed and so much has happened this year (2016) that I find myself stumped as to where to begin. I guess a general approach might be good: sort of an overview of things. Actually, it’s more a matter of the past three-and-a-half years.
Back on 15 April 2013, two events happened; one is still etched into our collective memory as both a city and a nation, the other considerably less significant; i.e., I and my wife of less than a year moved to Boston that day. However, we were more than impressed with how the city and region pulled together and quite literally became Boston Strong. We moved into a lovely second-floor apartment of a quintessential “triple decker” building in the equally charming neighbourhood of Jamaica Plain (JP colloquially). Of course, since we were renting that made us vulnerable to the caprice of the landlord who chose to sell the building out from underneath us after one just over a year. So, here it is in August 2014 and we have to find another place to live (that we can afford) at the worst possible time to look since by this time all the college kids (and God knows who else), have already signed leases or moved in. Thereupon we were somewhat compelled to move to Chelsea into what at first seemed to be a nice, two-floor apartment in one of the few half decent parts of town. However, shortly after our first year, we realised that (for reasons too extensive to enumerate) we were in a most untenable situation. It was at that point we realised our imperative was to not only move again but, to buy; not only to buy but, to get the heck out of the unwashed armpit of Massachusetts known as Chelsea. Ultimately, after a little searching, and with the help of a great agent, we found what can only be considered a little piece of heaven on earth in the delightfully idyllic community-by-the-bay of Houghs Neck (those of you who familiar with the Boston area know what I mean). We found a perfectly sized cape cod just a few blocks away from Quincy Bay and Rock Island Cove, yet we’re high enough not to need flood insurance. We have a lovely fenced in backyard with a tool shed and a 10,000 gallon, above ground swimming pool. The finished basement is now my study which, unfortunately, I haven’t fully utilised.
The problem, especially for me, has been — adjustment. For someone who has had issues with low-level depression (what used to be called dysthymia) moving three times within four years has taken its toll, particularly as a sixty-eight-year-old man who has watched his dreams gradually fade to barely a vapour of what they were. My main predicament is personal organisation. It seems every time I try to establish something akin to a regular routine so many exigencies seem to interfere that I can’t seem to get a handle on anything. I’m generally a creature, maybe not of habit per se, but of consistency; and, for the past three-plus years I haven’t had that. Moreover, as a musician — a composer especially — my despondency has grown exponentially: not that it was all that great in Philadelphia. Up here in New England, I don’t know anybody; the only caveat being: having acquaintances in Philly didn’t help any more than if I knew one as up here in the Boston area.
As to the organ: I have summarily abandoned any hope of ever playing again. I haven’t been able to find a decent organ on which to practise, much less find a worthwhile church. Churches up here are no better (probably worse) about allowing access to their organs than Phila. I miss practising at St. Stephen’s at 10th and Market Sts. more than you can imagine. Moreover, not unlike the Philadelphia chapter, the local (Boston) chapter of the AGO is, by its cliquish nature, unwilling to be of any assistance; hence my decision to terminate my membership
My melancholy has had a stifling effect on my feelings toward music in general. Music was always my first love… now I can barely listen to it. I haven’t touched my piano or written a note in months. On those occasions in which I do listen to music all I think about is why am I not writing something? Why am I not practising? And then I think: why bother? Who is ever going to hear my music? Why work up a programme when I have no singer with whom to collaborate? Having absolutely no standing anywhere in the musical world, who’s going to take me seriously about anything I have to say or offer?
I suppose much of this is coming to terms with who, where and what I am and developing a routine that I know what I’m supposed to do and when. Having undiagnosed ADD I’m sure has a lot to do with why and where I am at this late stage in my life. It’s a bit ironic, sufferers of ADD have a tendency to become very self-absorbed worrying about priorities; i.e., the result being jumping from one thing to another trying to decide which to do first, which is more important; ultimately nothing gets done. Then the depression sets in because you’ve just spent another day achieving nothing. Yet, mutatis mundatis, when I do become focused on something, say practising the organ, I completely shut the world out to the point that I don’t eat or even sleep. I short I become obsessed. I just wish that happened more often. Presently, I’m currently in a quandary. Do I waste my time composing knowing that I’ll never hear any of my music performed, or do I waste my time practising the piano knowing that I’ll never find a singer to do the programme I want or just play in public in general?
I suppose, also, that I’ve become too complacent. For the first time in my life, I feel as if I have stability. I finally have a permanent home consisting of a perfectly sized house with a substantial 10,000 gallon, above ground swimming pool, in a truly idyllic community, the perfect mate, an absolutely wonderful dog, and a steady income. Perhaps it’s too good, in so far as not having a burning need or compulsion to prove anything to anybody. The farther away I’ve moved from the organ world the more I’ve realised, notwithstanding my ingenerate love of the instrument, how toxic an environment it is.
I guess with all of this change I still a little more time to figure out where to go from here. I have a number of ideas, most of them have little or no direct connection to music; I suppose now it’s more a matter now of motivation. I realise I can’t sit on my butt all day watching re-runs of “Star Trek Voyager” (I never got the chance to watch it originally) or MSNBC (which has become more and more conciliatory to Trump and his henchmen).
Of course, it being New England in February (it’s currently [the 12th] snowing like crazy with a lot more to come) there is a tendency to just hole up and wait til Spring. However, I know that’s not good. There’s much more in life; I just need to feel as if I can actually contribute something and make some kind of difference not only in my life but for others.
So, we’ll see what happens. I just hope this ennui ends and I figure out a routine in my daily life that grants me the chance to do all the things I wish to accomplish — no matter that they aren’t my dreams anymore — before I die.