Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Back And There Again

This is me (circa 1988) playing with one of my old bands. Note the beer on top of the amplifier...that was called "pay". It also helps explain why I thought it was OK to perform in public while wearing a filthy Burger King T-shirtand cut-off jeans...unwashed clothes and free beer were all I could afford back then.  I spent all my money on important stuff like guitar pedals and dope.

If you are in a band, it is hard to do anything but lose money; when you add in equipment costs, promotions expenses, rehearsal space and pharmaceutical needs, it quickly becomes a money pit...but it is very, very easy to get drunk for free.

I played in various unsuccesful bands on and off until the year 2001, when the ulnar nerve in my left arm gave way and required two surgeries to repair. By the time I had the final surgery, my fingers had become swollen and purple, my fingers were  numb and my elbow was in constant agony. I was on prescription painkillers for months...a habit I exacerbated with non-stop binge drinking.

My arm was repaired and I wound up beating the odds and regaining nearly full use of my arm and hand but the pills and drinking continued for years afterward; there are posts in this blog from that period where I am gleefully boasting about mixing liqour and pills, taalking as if it were fun. It's not. I had become fat, isolated and depressed and was too drunk to notice or  to care.

In 2005, all the fun I wasn't having finally caught up to me. One fall night, I started vomiting blood and -after several hours of sheer agony- I knew it wasn't going to stop on its own. I was dying and I knew it.

I made it to the hospital, where I had a stomach pump, a couple of grande mal seizures, a few surgeries,  a number of transfusions and underwent subsequent daily psychiatric and medical evalutions. After nearly a week, I was deemed sane and healthy enough to be released to my own care. I haven't had a drink since then.

I don't wish to extensively re-visit that week, but in hindsight I am struck by two things:

1) I had to debate with myself whether or not I went to the hospital. I wasn't sure if I wanted to live or not- I actually had to think about it. I never want to have that internal debate again.

2) I never beseeched God or tried to make my piece with Him.  I was dying and I never once implored  any celestial beings for help, but I didn't think about it at the time; it was a few years later when a lover asked me about my faith...my first answer leaned toward agnosticism, but I recalled that horrible night of near-dying and changed my answer to a "no". There are some of us in foxholes  after all.

Anway,I dropped the booze, shaved my head, lost sixty pounds and started living the more-or-less straight life- even serving as a bona fide Federal agent, sans any real authority.  The Federal job started off wonderfully but soon became a non-stop series of nightmares, I was laid off and rehired a half-dozen times, often with no warning at all...I  sure am glad I escaped before the proposed Federal budget freeze goes into effect.
(I must have been asleep when John McCain won the election)

But music has never left me. I've been a radio DJ for three years, I still have the guitar and the amp and, after a hiatus that lasted years, I'm playing again.

 I love that.


angel said...

I love that you're playing again. And not only playing- recording!!

Thank you for deciding in your favour.

Allan said...

Thank you!

secret agent woman said...

That's funny, I just had a session covering much the same issue and her recent return to music (only she never shaved her head). I said to her, and now to you also, "Good for you!"

(Anonymous has some cool hip hop watches to sell you now that you are playing again.)

Allan said...

Music is good, yes indeed! Spam is deleted now...I'm pretty sure that there is no such thing as a 'cool' hip-watch.

Sling said...

I envy you having found a place in so many bands.
Generally,I don't play well with others.
I can feel the smile in your words about playing again.


Im so happy and proud for you..all good things come to the good..
oh..did you get my email about my nephew phillip?...look for it..we need your expertise