Back from the Stupid Edge

Gather round, ye darling buds of May, for Storytime with Yours Truly, Truly...

I’ve been feeling quite out of it for a couple of weeks lately, which was really strange since I had played well enough to want to post it last month. But lately, I couldn’t remember the right chords or the right melody or even hit the right notes. Last week, I played Jeckyll & Hyde’s again, and it was horrid. Horrid. And no, you won’t be hearing it. Not until the box set. At Pickin’ and Grinnin’ last Thursday, I was sure I’d lost my mind, which was strangely coincidental as I’d thought the same thing the week before. Two nights ago, I practiced for about 90 minutes, and it was so bad that I thought I’d better put the guitar down and kick it towards the nice policeman aiming his pistol my way. Last night, I was determined to relearn an old tune from several years gone by, and I spent 150 minutes frustrating myself over and over by not getting it at all, culminating in a general feeling that I might as well walk away from music and find something better to do*. To top it off, I had been getting into darker and darker moods at work and at the house, which really isn’t something I’m known for at either location. This was clearly bad stuff. What had happened?

I’m quite disinclined to complain about aches and pains, particularly since it’s none of your business and you probably can’t do anything about it anyway. That being said, I have had a dull ache in my left index finger for the past, oh, I dunno... year? Those of you who play guitar will recognize this as a Rather Important Finger, not unlike the Rather Important Elbow that withstood the test of time until Les Paul’s car crash in 1948. Go ahead, click the link. I’ll wait.

Where were we? Right. My left index finger in increasing agony, which over time made me wonder if I should switch to kazoo. No, I said kazoo. Much better. Shall I continue? My left index finger was hurting more every time I played, and—the magnificent few who read this occasional blog will know this about me—I was reluctant to do anything about it.

Look, I’m a guy. While I might not do a lot of the things guys do, like whatever it is guys do, I am very reticent about going to the doctor, and my left finger was not going to change that. Also, I don’t take pharmaceuticals. Nope. Clean as a very strange whistle, I am. I had a teacher long, long ago who taught me some useful things about self-healing, and I have been pretty good about ignoring mild discomforts like headaches and broken arms. But this finger thing was getting out of hand (sorry, I’ll put a quarter in the Pun Jar), and it was suggested to me that I should try some ibuprofen to reduce what might be inflammation. How much should I take? Oh, three should do it. Every six hours. I’m not impugning anyone’s motives or medical advice, as it was suggested with great concern in the hopes of relieving me of this unpleasantry. So, I took three ibuprofen.

Three times a day.

For about two weeks.

Keep in mind that my sum consumption of ibuprofen for 2010 was probably 5 tablets, if that. I really don’t take anything, which explains absolutely nothing about me, does it? But since late April, I’d pushed around 100+ little red tablets down my throat, which was swell for my finger, which no longer throbbed and protested whenever I’d try to play an A chord. But I wasn’t playing those A chords very well, nor singing the notes over that or any other chord, and my de facto joviality had jumped out the window and taken a trolley to hide at Merlin Mann’s office. It was gently but firmly suggested that I stop taking the ibuprofen. Yeah, that made sense. Cold turkey at 7:12pm.

A couple of hours ago, I sat down with my spare guitar and a head full of trepidation and played the song that was plaguing me for two and a half hours the previous evening. I scotched one word, but made it through without wincing. Then I tried another song, then another. It was like an exorcism had taken place, or copious amounts of laxatives had been administered. I was playing guitar like I used to think I could, and my voice was mostly with me. Also, I was able to remember the lyrics, all those maddening words I write to prevent the digital pages of my MacBook Pro from getting lonely. I was back, and laughing it up as I went along. After about 40 minutes, I stopped playing and uploaded the audio as a permanent, public reminder that, although I could easily find a lot of things wrong with me at any point in the day, my musical abilities are still holding out for a better agent.

Stay off the drugs, kids. Wait, that’s a lazy moral. Howsabout:

I was not made for hypertension.

... we’ll work on it.

* This prescient sentiment comes about every once in a while, particularly when I don’t get the results I’m seeking when writing a song, but last night’s was so vivid that I was really ready to retire my equipment.