Friday, September 16, 2010. 28 years, 51 weeks, 4 days.
I awoke early and energized on Friday.
Our gig was good, if lightly attended, things at work were under control, and I had a Filmstar rehearsal in store for me in the evening. The only challenge would be leaving work early enough to pick up my repaired bass before the shop closed.
I tried to get to work obscenely early for some uninterrupted time at my desk, but had to burn another disc for our charity campaign – this time for another talent show rehearsal I was running on my lunch break. The damned thing crawled at 4x speed on my 48x burner. I dressed fussily, yet time still remained. I packed my guitar, in case I needed it at the rehearsal. Time crawled, still.
Finally, the disc ejected. Into my bag it went, guitar over shoulder, mic stand wielded like a quarterstaff. The walk to the trolley wasn’t nearly as challenging as it had been on Thursday, but I was already considering the hike back to the house with all that gear plus my rehabbed bass.
Work was exhilarating, although I think those are the days my co-workers probably can’t stand me at all. The disc I burned turned out to be a CD-RW, explaining the sluggish speed. A co-worker working on the same freelance gig as I was rang me to talk about our assignment, and reminded me that the real deadline was Monday – three extra days to write!
At that point I was feeling pretty swell. Regardless, I was double and triple booked at every turn, but still managed to finish up every little thing I had meant to do, even if it meant pushing ten minutes past my Outlook appointment proclaiming, “If you don’t walk away right now you will miss the train and have no bass for rehearsal.”
What’s ten minutes, I thought? I just had to travel down 38 stories, walk three blocks, and buy a train ticket. I could work for ten minutes and still grab the bass. I’d be fine.
Well, it was a near thing, but I beat the train to the platform by an entire fifteen seconds. I’ve decided to chalk that one up to good project management rather than procrastination.
I ran into a new client on the train, chatted merrily, disembarked at the station, picked up my bass for twice the estimated cost, and trekked home carrying laptop satchel, acoustic guitar, and electric bass. It was a mile and a half, but it felt more than double that – surely as punishing as my old commute home when I’d jog it. I had to stop every half block to switch the bass to another hand.
Rehearsal was, in a word, unfortunate. The different action on my bass was tripping up my fingers and a week sans rehearsal meant I had forgotten my nifty new transitions.
Oh, and the earplugs. I had vowed to start wearing them sooner or later, and after our first song left my ears ringing I decided the time was upon me. I donned them and suddenly I was rehearsing underwater ballet, my notes lingering a hair behind the rest of the band.
After the first song in our second set I pulled them out to hear the room booming with my final strike of the E string. “Was my bass that loud for the whole song?” E just glared in return.
Things were not going well. I pressed the earplugs back and managed to get my bearings for our second set of songs, but it was still my weakest rehearsal since joining as the fill-in bassist almost two months prior.
At the end of rehearsal E declared that the three permanent band members had to discuss the bass situation and I was summarily dismissed from the room.
(It should be mentioned that E and I are not couple-y at all when we’re in any kind of performance situation together. We’re both a wholly separate brand of perfectionist, and in many instances those two brands might as well be oil and water. I think I’m typically more attuned to Filmstar’s drummer Zina than to E at rehearsals.)
The situation was pretty straightforward: my contract was up at the end of the month, the band had rehearsed twice with another bassist who sounded more than competent, and it was time to start booking fall gigs and recording a new EP.
I walked through the smoke-tinged halls of the studio and out into the cool air of the parking lot. Based on my lackluster showing at rehearsal, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be that solution.
I peered through the windows into the rooms in the front of the studio. No one was wearing earplugs. Who wears earplugs? Who wears earplugs for the first time when rehearsing on a bass with new action on the night their band is going to decide whether to keep them or not?
I hope you enjoyed your last rehearsal, I mused to myself. Of course it had to be this awful one before the band decided what to do and not my fantastic showing from the prior week.
Before I realized it I had paced three times around the row of parked cars. I forced myself to sit down on the bumper of our Matrix. I fussed with my phone, scrolling through Twitter without really reading the messages.
Oh well. Being in a rock band had been fun, but that’s my life.
I looked up to find E peering down at me. “I wondered where you got off to. Come on, we’re done.”
I followed E back through the labyrinthine halls of the rehearsal space, neither of us uttering a word. I supposed they wanted to let me down together, so it would be official – and maybe a little kinder than if E did it on her own.
Back in our rehearsal room Zina and guitarist/songwriter Glenn were making small talk while they packed up. A friend of Glenn’s had just texted him – could the band play a surprise gig the next night? It might be a good warm-up for recording to play some of the newer tunes in a bar with the new lineup.
E smiled. “Oh yeah, you’re still in the band. Do you want to go out for crab fries?”
I almost demurred, considering my freelance assignment, but then I remembered I had the entire weekend to knock out that final two thousand or so words. We adjourned to Chickie’s & Pete’s, each ordering a basket of crab fries, texting friends about our secret gig the next night, and talking about upcoming time in a recording studio.
That’s my life. I finished my freelance assignment with no issue many hours ahead of deadline, I made it to work on Monday at ten of seven to kick off our charity campaign, we had a rehearsal with Arcati Crisis + Zina on drums last night where we blasted through “Dumbest Thing I Could Do,” and tonight is the first night of rehearsal in my renewed run with Filmstar. I even found the time to mow the lawn.
Today I turned 29. I spent it at home from work, mostly napping. I would have rather had the sleep interspersed in the week of nights that proceeded today, but if that’s what it takes to be a successful professional in good shape with a happy marriage, an evening music career, a well-kept home, and writing gigs on the side then I’m game.
That’s my life.