Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Chameleons and Other Karmic Reptiles

What follows here, today, originally appeared here eight years and one day ago.  I wrote it to mark the occasion of my parole from a prison of my own manufacture, which was a very happy day indeed. I share it here again today to remind myself of the lesson it conveys about the correctness of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's observation about the likelihood that the world shall break your Irish heart.  

At the time I wrote this, eight years and one day ago, I was feeling pretty fucking smug.  I felt as if, in spite of myself, I did in fact have the world on a lyrical string.  Things were suddenly pretty goddamn good after having been anything but for four months.  I did indeed leave a bad situation at day's end that Friday and return to the Firm following the Memorial Day weekend, on which Margaret and I spent Saturday at Byrne Arena with the Sisters Kizis and a whole RV full of Springsteen fans. We were in the Pit, a row or two away from the stage and Liv, who was just a little kid then, joined Bruce in singing "Waiting on a Sunny Day".  The audience member who recorded it has a nice shot of Liv on the big screen at or about the five-minute mark, singing her heart out.  It was one hell of a start to the Memorial Day weekend.   




It was also that Memorial Day weekend, however, when Margaret's mom, Suzy B., made what proved to be her final trip to Somerset Medical Center.  She was admitted to the hospital through the Emergency Department on that Sunday night.  She never came home.  It was there that she died, in the presence of family, in the early morning hours of June 2, 2009.  

All these years later, as I read again what I wrote on that day, I am reminded just how quickly the world I inhabit turned from smug to shit. Lesson learned, Karma.  Lesson learned.  

FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2009

Washing These Sins From My Hands

In the wake of the success of his double album "The River", Bruce Springsteen appeared to retreat quite a bit commercially. Instead of following up the album that produced his highest charting single (as of that date) "Hungry Heart" with another full band album, he released the dark and brooding "Nebraska", which he recorded by himself at home using his 4 track recording equipment. Legend has it that he did not intend to release the record as a solo project but when he tried to teach them to his fellow E Streeters, he felt the full band treatment robbed the songs of their grit and their soul. So he scrapped the full band treatment and ultimately released commercially the songs he had recorded quietly, at home - alone.

Nebraska is - to my ear - one of Springsteen's better efforts. It is a record painted in dark, deep brush strokes. While there is not a track on it that I do not like, my favorite story is the one told on "My Father's House". In it, the narrator tells the story of his desperate attempt at atonement - his attempt to make amends for unspecified sins and his attempt to make peace with his father. In the end, in spite of his best efforts, he fails:


Springsteen has said frequently through the years that his dark side is his inheritance from his father's side - the Irish side of the family. We are a melancholy bunch, the Irish. And haunted we often are by failed opportunities and squandered chances.

And for quite some time since the calendar peeled '08 away in favor of '09, I was feeling the pinch. Candidly, I felt at times as if I had dropped into a hole and regardless of what I tried to do to pull myself out of it, the deeper into it I fell. Had I been able to gauge its depth I might have been able to tell whether I was closer to its bottom or its top. I could not so I did not. Instead I just kept falling.

And as suddenly as I had fallen into my downward spiral, an opportunity presented itself at redemption. Whether I did anything to deserve it is a question for others to answer. Whether I have ever done anything - stacking one atop of another all that I have done thru the first 42 years of my life - to deserve it is as well. But here it is. And so I go. Thank you Professor Peabody for working out the kinks in the way back machine.

Today marks the final day of my four month detour. And Tuesday marks the first day back on the path I was on before I ran squarely into the tree located between the tines of the road's fork.

And in between, we have reached Memorial Day. The unofficial start of Summer. My bride and I will spend a part of our holiday weekend in the company of good friends watching Springsteen and the E Street Band put the bow on the first U.S. leg of their world tour.

Summer is here indeed. And the time is most certainly right.

-AK

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